Cook County pop tax expected to be repealed next week, commissioner says

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CHICAGO --  The Cook County soda tax is expected to be repealed next week.

Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison says there will be a repeal vote in the finance committee on Oct. 10. Morrison's office says they have enough commissioners signed on to repeal the soda tax and withstand a veto from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Commissioners Morrison says have signed on includes Richard Boykin, John A. Fritchey, Timothy O. Schneider, Jeffrey R. Tobolski, Peter N. Silvestri, Bridget Gainer, Gregg Goslin, John P. Daley, Jesus G. Garcia, Stanley Moore and Dennis Deer.

If passed and signed, the repeal would take effect Dec. 1, which is the beginning of Cook County’s fiscal year. The measure has faced blowback from both business owners and consumers ever since it went into effect. Everyone stopped on the street by WGN Friday said they didn't like the new tax.

"I get to the store and be like, 'oh my god the tax is so much,' and I buy a lot of pop and a lot of juices," said Rhonda Powell, who was stocking up on soda for her grandkids Friday. "We need to get rid of it because I just think it was for the money."

"I kinda feel it’s a burden because things are already pricey as it is," Jeremy Smith said.

Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison said after hearing similar complaints, he decided to do something about it.

"It's not a tax that’s distributed amongst all residents in the county, it’s a very segmented tax, and a tax like that puts a tremendous burden on the families of Cook County," Morrison said.

The Illinois Retail Merchants Association is among those whom have been fighting the tax since it was first proposed one year ago, saying it's a burden on local businesses.

"This tax has actually sent our customers running for the border," said the IRMA's Tanya Triche Dawood. "It was a relief after so many months of working this issue."

So far, 11 commissioners have signed on to repeal the pop tax, which could be enough to withstand a veto from President Toni Preckwinkle. She would not go on camera Friday, and is withholding comment until next week. In a statement, Preckwinkle's office said the decision is one of "two divergent paths" the commision could take for the future. During Thursday's budget meeting, Preckwinkle spoke about what one of those "paths" may be: drastic cuts to services provided by the county.

“That might involve closing clinics, closing or reducing services at Providence and our regional outpatient center in Oak Forest,” Preckwinkle said.


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