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updated: 6/23/2015 5:43 AM

Commissioner: Preckwinkle floating sales tax hike for Cook County

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  • The spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says Preckwinkle is working on a number of possible scenarios to balance the county budget.

    The spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says Preckwinkle is working on a number of possible scenarios to balance the county budget.

 
 

Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle is floating an idea to raise the county sales tax a little over two years after she rolled it back, a county commissioner confirmed Monday.

Commissioner Gregg Goslin, of Glenview, said he had "a brief conversation" about it with Preckwinkle last week.

"She did not talk to me in great detail," Goslin said. "I listened."

The sales tax now is 8 percent in unincorporated Cook County. The county gets 0.75 percent, the Regional Transportation Authority gets 1 percent, and Illinois gets 6.25 percent. Many suburbs have additional sales taxes, and Chicago has a 1.25 percent sales tax.

A spokesman for Preckwinkle's office wouldn't confirm the report, saying only that the board president is "hard at work looking at a number of scenarios" to balance the budget and fund the county pensions.

"President Preckwinkle has consistently said that (fiscal year 2016) will be a particularly challenging budget year for a number of reasons, not least of which is the failure of Springfield to act on the county's proposed pension legislation," Preckwinkle's spokesman Frank Shuftan said in a statement. "We expect to present a plan to our board of commissioners shortly."

The board next meets July 1, but the budget deadline isn't until Dec. 1.

Preckwinkle won election to the board for repealing an unpopular 1 percentage point sales tax hike championed by her predecessor, Todd Stroger.

Goslin said he'd be hard-pressed to approve a sales tax increase but is trying to keep an open mind because there have been significant reforms in the way the county manages money.

During the 2008 tax hike, he received complaints from businesses in his district near the Lake County border, including downtown Barrington, who said the higher sales tax hurts them and drives their customers across the border where the tax is lower.

"I'm not supporting (a tax hike), but I'm not closing the door to it, either," he said. "When the budget comes out, we'll take a look at it. We have some pension issues we've got to deal with. I want to see the whole budget and understand how it's all going to fit together. Right now, I don't know that."

• Daily Herald Political Editor Mike Riopell contributed to this report.

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