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Cut tax, lose benefits: Stroger
COUNTY BUDGET | Sales tax repeal has consequences, he warns

Friday, October 23, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
by Abdon Pallasch

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger laid out all the goodies in his "no new property taxes" budget Thursday -- money for boys and girls clubs, a new film office -- then warned it will all be gone if commissioners repeal his 2008 penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.

Commissioners say they will.

Stroger said Cook County is in much better shape than other local governments because of his sales tax hike that will supply $400 million of the county's $3 billion budget.

"Like last year, my budget recommendation for 2010 proposes no new taxes -- none," Stroger told commissioners.

But it does include his controversial 2008 sales tax hike, which made Chicago's overall sales tax rate the highest of any big city in the nation.

Thanks to that extra money, Stroger can give:

• $35 million more to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to make sure there are enough guards in the jail.

• $37 million more to fund Stroger Hospital and the county's health clinics.

• $200,000 each to CeaseFire and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago for programs to reduce teen violence. "We owe it to the children of Cook County," Stroger said.

• $250,000 to start a Cook County Film Commission to draw movie projects here.

Half the county budget -- such as jail guards, can't be touched because of court orders or other restrictions. So if commissioners repeal the sales tax hike after Gov. Quinn signs a bill lowering the board's veto override threshold from four-fifths to three-fifths next month, social services spending such as the grants to the Boys and Girls Clubs will all be cut, Stroger said.



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