Cook County's long derided 1-percentage-point sales tax increase will be rolled back completely by 2013.
At the urging of board President Toni Preckwinkle, the board Friday approved a full rollback of the tax hike imposed under her predecessor, Todd Stroger.
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The ordinance, approved by a vote of 12-5, returned the county's share of the sales tax to 0.75 percent, effective to start 2013. The original increase was cut in half last year and will be phased out with a 0.25 percent cut in 2012 and another the following year, at an estimated cost of $80 million per quarter-percentage-point, according to Preckwinkle.
The rollback came as the county board worked late into Saturday morning to try to pass a balanced, $3 billion budget ahead of a Monday deadline.
"We made a commitment on the campaign trail, that this is what we were going to do," Preckwinkle said.
The full rollback was approved by the same 12-5 vote as the partial rollback in 2009, but with a change in sides. Chicago Democratic Commissioner Jerry Butler said he was "sitting in a difficult position," in that he had supported the penny-on-the-dollar sales-tax increase as key to public health, but also backed Preckwinkle as the "best candidate" for president last year.
"I'm going to give you my vote," Butler said, "because I want to see you succeed."
Chicago Democratic Commissioner Robert Steele, Preckwinkle's president pro tem, changed to opposing the full rollback, saying he supported it eventually, but it was "a bit early" and "putting the cart before the horse" to do it now, after the county was just imposing major budget cuts.
Suburban Republicans cheered the full rollback for repealing a tax they say was chasing business from their districts across the county line. "It's something important to the constituency I represent to get this repealed," said Orland Park Commissioner Liz Gorman.
"Fulfilling a campaign promise -- wow!" Glenview Commissioner Gregg Goslin told Preckwinkle, adding that the tax increase "has been a disaster."
Steele was joined by fellow Chicago Democrats William Beavers, Earlean Collins and Deborah Sims, as well as Crestwood Democrat Joan Patricia Murphy, in opposing the full rollback.