Residents react to proposed fees, tax hikes

November 15, 2011 (CHICAGO)

At the Cook County building, taxpayers were fully aware of this year's public sector attack on their pocketbooks.

"The taxes just keep going higher and higher to a rate that you just can't keep up with it," said Tom Macris, taxpayer.

And it's happened in less than a year: Beginning with January's 66% increase in the Illinois income tax to property tax increases in most city and suburban neighborhoods to planned hikes in water and electric rates and soon-to-be higher prices for city stickers, the Tollway and rides on Metra.

"More, more, more more. When does it stop?" said Macris.

Not anytime soon. Cook County wants to raise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages and the city proposes to make tens of millions with speed cameras.

"Because they passed the big tax hike in January, now what they're doing, because that was so controversial and they can't go back to it, they're picking off these little sneaky ones and hoping nobody will notice," said John Tilman, Illinois Policy Institute.

"I am not going to ask people who feel nickled and dimed to pay more," said Mayor Emanuel on July 29.

Weeks after that comment, Mayor Emanuel's school board raised property taxes and he proposed higher vehicle sticker fees and water rates.

Meanwhile, county board president Toni Preckwinkle had no apologies for her budget's tax and fee increases.

"The county is spending less. It spent less last year than the year before and this year less than last year," said Toni Preckwinkle, Cook Co. board president.

The Illinois Policy Institute's Tilman says spending cuts haven't gone far enough.

"The problem in both state and local government in Illinois is that the people in charge don't want to say no to the people who have an interest in more government spending," said Tilman.

"You're not important anymore. You don't think you're important to them? You're definitely not important," said Annie Chevalier, taxpayer.

Tax-stressed Chevalier is afraid she'll lose her home because she can't pay the taxes or sell it. She's had it with politicians.

"Once the voting is over with, they go back to the same old habits of tax, tax, tax, tax," said Chevalier.

The Illinois Policy Institute did a quick accounting Tuesday morning and reported that so far this year a suburban family of four making $59,000 a year would pay an estimated $1,700 a year more with with all the increases in taxes and assorted fees imposed this year. The politicians don't appear to pay attention to what another jurisdiction is doing when they raise their own taxes and fees.

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