One day after Cook County Commissioner John Daley became the ninth commissioner to publicly back a repeal of the county’s highly unpopular beverage tax, more than a dozen suburban mayors and village presidents are weighing in to encourage the remaining eight commissioners to do the same.
In a letter to county commissioners, the mayors and village presidents call the beverage tax “just bad policy” and note there has been “a dramatically negative impact on our residents, businesses and communities in the two short months the tax has been in effect.” They call on the County Board to “repeal the tax before it does any more damage.”
The group highlights three primary areas where the tax is having a “devastating impact” on suburban communities and outline specific impacts in the letter.
- The beverage tax places Cook County communities at a competitive disadvantage.
- Higher costs are leading to consumer flight to Indiana and the Collar Counties, and resulting in job loss.
- Local communities are losing revenue when residents and consumers choose to leave Cook County to shop elsewhere.
The following mayors and village presidents signed the letter:
- Sheila Y. Chalmers-Currin, Village President, Village of Matteson
- John Egofske, Mayor, Village of Lemont
- Gary L’Heureux, Mayor, Village of Midlothian
- Robert Lovero, Mayor, City of Berwyn
- John F. Mahoney, Mayor, Village of Palos Park
- Keith Pekau, Mayor, Village of Orland Park
- Sergio Rodriguez, Mayor, Village of Summit
- John Ryan, Mayor, Village of Alsip
- Jeffrey Tobolski, Mayor, Village of McCook
- Charles Tokar, Village President, Village of Chicago Ridge
- Jeff Walik, Mayor, Village of Stickney
- Krzysztof Wasowicz, Village President, Village of Justice
- Mary Werner, Village President, Village of Worth
“Cook County commissioners have a choice. You can allow this unfair, over-reaching tax to continue and hurt our residents, businesses and municipalities even more. Or we can protect county residents, businesses and municipalities and put them in the best position to be successful by repealing the beverage tax. We think this is an easy decision,” the letter concludes.
The Cook County Finance Committee will consider an ordinance to repeal the beverage tax next Tuesday, October 10.
Below is the full text of the letter:
October 6, 2017
Re: Repeal the Cook County beverage tax
Dear President Toni Preckwinkle and members of the Cook County Board of Commissioners:
As mayors of municipalities in Cook County, we write to express our deep concern about the county’s far-reaching beverage tax, which has had a dramatically negative impact on our residents, businesses and communities in the two short months the tax has been in effect. We urge you to repeal the tax before it does any more damage.
We view ourselves as the county’s partner in providing for Cook County residents. But this tax hurts our communities. Frankly, the tax is just bad policy and it is having a devastating impact on our communities. Specifically:
- Competitive The beverage tax picks winners and losers and puts Cook County cities and businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Combined with the county’s sales tax, which is already the highest in the region, the addition of the beverage tax makes it near impossible for us to compete with our neighboring communities in the Collar Counties and Indiana. Even more, some Cook County cities are split between two counties, meaning residents don’t even need to leave the city to avoid paying the beverage tax and Cook County sales taxes – devastating businesses on the Cook County side of the border.
- Higher costs, consumer flight, job loss. The tax forces Cook County residents and consumers to pay up to 67% more for more than 1,000 every day beverages, including diet drinks. The tax is steep and unfair. As a result, significant consumer flight has taken hold and county businesses are reporting beverage sales declines nearing 50% while retailers just outside of Cook County are reporting higher sales. Adding insult to injury, there are now reports of businesses having to cut hours and lay off
- Losing revenue at local There are reports from the collar counties and Indiana that our residents are not only choosing to shop for their beverages outside of Cook County, but they are choosing to stay and buy the rest of their groceries and dine across the border. The impact is not only lost revenue from the beverage tax, but also lost sales and other excise taxes that our cities rely on.
Cook County commissioners have a choice. You can allow this unfair, over-reaching tax to continue and hurt our residents, businesses and municipalities even more. Or we can protect county residents, businesses and municipalities and put them in the best position to be successful by repealing the beverage tax. We think this is an easy decision. Please vote to repeal the beverage tax.
Sheila Y. Chalmers-Currin
Village President, Village of Matteson
Mayor, Village of Lemont
Mayor, Village of Midlothian
Mayor, City of Berwyn
John F. Mahoney
Mayor, Village of Palos Park
Mayor, Village of Orland Park
Mayor, Village of Summit
Mayor, Village of Alsip
Mayor, Village of McCook
Village President, Village of Chicago Ridge
Mayor, Village of Stickney
Village President, Village of Justice
Village President, Village of Worth