Tuesday, November 17, 2009
County board approves Gorman sales tax repeal motion
By Ray Hanania
The Cook County Board voted 12 to 5 Tuesday to roll back half of County Board President Todd Stroger’s 1 percent sales tax which has heaped economic hardship on county residents already hammered by the recession.
Although the motion was sponsored by several commissioners, clearly the heart and spirit of the rollback drive is County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman from the 17^th District which represents one of the largest cross-sections of the county’s suburban communities, 51 square miles from northwest to southwest. Gorman initiated the first effort to repeal the sales tax on May 5 and refused to back down, introducing and sponsoring several more motions including the one passed Tuesday.
“I am excited that we have once again represented the best interested of the people of Cook County and rolled backed half of Stroger’s 1 percent sales tax hike,” Gorman said after the meeting.
“Instead of increasing the sales tax, which is considered the most repressive form of taxation because it undermines the economy, Stroger should have proposed cuts in his administration and pushed office holders to embrace economic belt tightening. Every citizen of Cook County has been forced by the economy to cut back. We need to consolidate offices, restructure and reform Cook County before going to the business community to bailout mismanagement of county government out.”
Stroger is again expected to veto the ordinance. He may even challenge it saying it is redundant arguing that the rollback is not a substantive change from the measure he defeated with his veto to protect the sales tax increase.
Gorman said she is hopeful that all 12 members who supported the rollback will stand firm for all of the taxpayers in Cook County and send Stroger a strong message that his tax and spend policies will not be tolerated.
Gorman was instrumental in insisting that the board not give up fighting for taxpayers after the first effort she introduced on May 5 to roll back and repeal the Stroger sales tax failed. Several more motions were made and failed.
During the last vote, the board voted 14 to 3 to rollback the sales tax, but Stroger vetoed the motion and one member, Commissioner Deborah Simms, who supported the roll back, surrendered to Stroger’s political pressure and supported his veto.
Gorman’s persistence on refusing to give up and her repeated attempts to repeal and rollback the tax paid off when leaders of the Illinois General Assembly voted to reduce the number of votes required to override Stroger’s veto from 14 to only 11. Legislative leaders said they were prompted to act by Gorman’s and the board’s refusal to give up.
On Tuesday, Gorman tried again to first repeal the entire sales tax. The measure was also sponsored by Commissioners Gregg Goslin and Timothy Schneider. Commissioner Tony Peraica tried to introduce a similar bill but complained when no one would second his motion. Critics charge it reflects his increased isolation on the county board.
Anti-suburban Commissioner Bridget Gainer, whose family hails from the powerful Chicago 19th Ward but whose district represents the north side of Chicago, led the vote to defend Stroger’s sales tax. The full rollback received only five votes.
And Stroger found another ally in Southwest suburban Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy. Murphy voted against both the repeal and the rollback measures Tuesday, a slap in the face of district activists seeking to relieve excessive taxation.
Gorman is seeking to hold down taxes in the 17th District and she blasted Patrick Maher, one of four Democrats seeking to challenge her next fall. Maher is president of the controversy-plagued Orland Fire Protection District Board, which takes the largest chunk of taxes from Orland Township’s tax bill outside of the school districts.
The OFPD collects 12.51 percent from residents within the Village of Orland Park, and 13.9% in the unincorporated areas of the Village of Orland Township's entire property tax bill. Its budget is the largest Fire Districts in the state, Gorman said.
Meanwhile, Cook County GOP Chairman Lee Roupas praised the board and its GOP members and called it a “rare day” in the county.
“On behalf of taxpayers across Cook County, I want to thank the Republican Commissioners for their relentless work and attention to this issue,” said Cook County GOP Chairman Lee Roupas. “Not only is it a tangible tax reduction, but also a moral victory for taxpayers – finally. The entire one-percent rollback would have been ideal, but I guess the Democrats’ rhetoric on taxes is more symbolic than substantive. I urge the Republicans on the Board to continue the fight to lower taxes in Cook County.”
HOW THEY VOTED:
Yes (12 votes) to reduce the Stroger sales tax by half:
Lawrence Suffredin (D-Evanston)
Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman (R-Orland Park)
Timothy Schneider (R-Streamwood)
Gregg Goslin (R-Glenview)
Edwin Reyes (D-Chicago)
John Daley (D-Chicago)
Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park)
Tony Peraica (R-Riverside)
Robert Steele (D-Chicago)
Earlean Collins (D-Chicago)
Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago)
Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago),
No (5 votes) to retain the full sales tax:
William Beavers (D-Chicago)
Deborah Sims (D-Chicago)
Jerry Butler (D-Chicago)
Joan Patricia Murphy (D-Crestwood)
Joseph Mario Moreno (D-Chicago).