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Taxer, Higher, Stroger

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 28, 2007 8:30PM

2007_09_28_stroger.jpgCook County may raise the sales tax next week, and the fight over how to manage those finances is heating back up. Todd Stroger, who has been noncommittal in his support of the increase until now, called for the special board meeting Monday to consider raising the county sales tax 266 percent, from .75 percent to 2.75 percent, in an attempt to cover a projected budget shortfall of $307 million next year. Opponents were quick to attack, charging that Stroger's "Friends and Family Plan" would benefit from the tax increase, and a bloated patronage system will only grow with new funding. Stroger and his allies claim that they have made changes to the county government, and raising taxes to cover the budget shortfall is necessary. "I think if you looked at our record in the last nine months you'll find that we've made changes, we've reduced the work force by about 10 percent," Stroger said. "We've made changes to the Bureau of Health."

Without a 2008 budget proposal, this tax increase is difficult to swallow. As the Sun-Times pointed out, the number of front-line county workers has shrunk by about 2,000, but the number of people making $60,000 or more increased to 7,672 from 6,497. With Chicago residents already paying nine percent in sales taxes, one of the highest in the nation, and the state looking at more increases to fund capital spending and the restructuring of mass transit, this tax hike leaves many county residents looking at paying more for fewer services.