Report shows Cook County’s revenue flow misses projected mark

SHARE Report shows Cook County’s revenue flow misses projected mark
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Cook County Clerk David Orr reports on property taxes in Chicago and suburban Cook County. | File photo

Although the pop tax was only in effect for a little over three months, revenue still fell $27 million short of theCook County’s $73.7 million goal, data shows.

The internal report obtained by the Sun-Times also reveals that the contentious, penny-an-ounce sweetened beverage levy wasn’t the only one that didn’t meet its target — four other taxes lowered Cook County’s expected revenue stream, dropping it by $5.4 million.

The preliminary analysis, which was given to Board President Toni Preckwinkle and commissioners earlier this month, focuses on the county’s finances through Nov. 30.

For David Goldenberg, spokesperson for the Can the Tax coalition, the decreased revenue for the beverage tax and the sales tax are correlated.

“This tax drove people out of the county, and these numbers underscore that beverage taxes are bad fiscal policy because they’re unstable and not transparent,” Goldenberg said. “They never bring in as much money as promised.”

Revenue from the sales tax fell short of expected for the second year in a row, bringing in $811 million through Nov. 30, the end of the fiscal year. That’s $12 million behind its forecast of $823 million.

The county’s cigarette tax brought in $2 million less than forecast.

Two others, the use and non-retailer transactions use taxes, were $1.2 million behind their budgeted revenue also failed to bring in their expected revenue. Both add a 1 percent tax on the purchase price of property like cars, boats or motorcycles that are bought and titled within the county.

The decrease in the sales tax could be related to the rise in online shopping, as well as a 2 percent administrative charge on the tax from the state.

The county made up for the revenue holes in other taxes, largely from the amusement and gas/diesel fuel tax. Overall, it generated nearly $1.9 billion in revenue and was .3 percent off its initial revenue target.

Frank Shuftan, Preckwinkle’s spokesman, said the county’s main revenue sources have “flatlined” over the years.

The decrease in revenue for the county could mean a holdback later this year, meaning a temporary freeze in giving money budgeted dollars to county departments. County employees last saw a holdback in August 2017, Shuftan said.

“There’s no appetite for new revenue measures on the board,” Shuftan said. “Nothing is being ruled out, but there aren’t any specific proposals on the table.”

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