Cook County

Cook County Soda Tax to Be Repealed

A plan to repeal Cook County's sweetened beverage tax passed its final hurdle on Wednesday, bringing an end to the monthslong controversy and public outcry. 

After several hours of testimony, the Cook County Board passed the repeal in a 15 to 2 vote reflecting the Finance Committee's 15 to 1 vote on Tuesday in favor of ending the tax.

The board voted on the proposal at its meeting beginning at 11 a.m. Commissioners Jerry Butler and Larry Suffredin were the only two dissenting votes on Wednesday. 

Only 11 votes were needed to override a possible veto by President Toni Preckwinkle. [[430937033, C]]

The proposal will phase out the tax on Dec. 1, at the start of the new fiscal year. Wednesday's vote took place just two months after the tax took effect in the area.

When the tax originally passed, eight commissioners voted for it and eight voted against it, with Preckwinkle casting the tiebreaking vote to pass the measure. 

Preckwinkle has repeated her warning that massive budget cuts and layoffs could result if the penny-per-ounce tax is repealed, with an 11 percent cut across the board currently on the table if the measure is overturned next week.

Health clinics, prosecutors and public defenders could be impacted as well as perhaps security for local elections and even the mailing of property tax bills on time, she said. 

Still, the tax has fueled much public outcry from both shoppers and business owners in the county. 

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