The Crusader Newspaper Group

Boykin said voters will decide on pop tax come March

By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said the controversial pop tax is not being charged by all business establishments, some blaming the inability of their financial systems to handle the new transaction and others not charging their customers at all.

During a City Hall press conference, Boykin said the pop tax “was incompetently rolled out” and said while visiting a Whole Foods in River Forest he found out “they are not even charging it. They told me their systems aren’t able to do it yet but they’ll be able to do it by the end of the month.

“You have some people charging it and others not,” Boykin said. “You have these outlandish and outrageous prices on this product, and it is unacceptable the way this thing has been handled from start to finish,” he said of the pop tax.

Asked if a repeal effort of the pop tax could be successful, Boykin said, “I believe there could be nine votes to repeal that.” However, he predicted Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle would veto that action forcing a possible 11 vote override.

“Not one person I talked to yesterday agrees with this beverage tax,” Boykin said. “They think it is terrible. It’s the Toni tax and the electorate will get an opportunity to express their displeasure in March. There will be a clear example of those who want to raise taxes and those who want to cut and reform county government.”

However, Preckwinkle recently told reporters the pop tax is critical to both the running of county government and public health but that is not how the Illinois Restaurant Association sees the unpopular tax.

Sam Toia, president of the Association told reporters the tax will “have a dramatic impact on their pocketbooks” and that it would hurt their profit margins.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is appealing Cook County Judge Daniel Kubasiak’s ruling allowing the pop tax to go into effect.

A legal fight is no surprise to Preckwinkle whose spokesperson, Frank Shuftan told the media via e-mail, “We will continue to vigorously defend the ordinance and expect to prevail as we did in the initial round of hearings.”

Preckwinkle is hoping the pop tax will yield $67.5 million in 2017 and more than $200.6 million next year.

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