Gun, golf, gambling tax hikes in Cook Co. budget

November 9, 2012 4:40:48 PM PST
Cook County residents will soon pay more for everything from cigarettes to guns.

A new budget of nearly 3 billion dollars includes many tax and fee increases. The new taxes will help Cook County close a $260 million budget hole.

The new budget does roll back what was left of the county sales tax increase.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said this budget is fiscally responsible and reflects the values and priorities of her administration.

"We achieved that by making structural changes that focus on the county's long term health, we've reduced our head count and taken vacant positions off the books," Preckwinkle said. "And this year's budget does not rely on any one-time fixes."

"I think it is a good thing especially in this economy right now," Cook County resident James Fabbrini said.

The new budget includes a $25 per -gun tax on firearm purchases, effective April 1.

Preckwinkle also wanted to tax every bullet, but that is off on the plan. She was able to compromise with some commissioners to push for a more community-based anti-violence package.

"We were also able to work to get a $2 million violence package together, which would put money into the community to reduce violence, deal with the illegal purchase of guns, and start to put bad guys away by next summer," said Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski.

Residents who buy big-ticket items like television sets and refrigerators outside of Cook County must pay a 1.2 percent use tax for anything over $3500.

There is also a $1,000 per year tax on slot machines at the River Casino in Des Plaines, a $200 per year tax on video gambling machines at bars and restaurants and a $1 a pack cigarette tax hike effective March 1.

Preckwinkle said higher taxes on cigarette encourage smokers to quit and discourage young people from starting to smoke.

"It is a little bit much we have been taxed over the last three years a dollar more," smoker Lorenzo Barnette said. "We can go out of Cook County to buy our cigarettes."

"Smokers pay a lot of money and maybe it will be good for the city. You have to tax something," resident Bathany White said.

Preckwinkle thanked the Cook County Board of Commissioners, residents, businesses and community leaders for their input during the budget session.

"Of the three budgets we have worked on, this has been the easiest. It has come together very well in a very bipartisan spirit," said Commissioner John Fritchey.