Collective industry voice is urged to defeat new added tax on rentals

Essanay’s Wayne Kubacki stresses the urgency for the industry to raise its collective voice to help defeat a disastrous tax increase if the County Board passes it at a Dec. 9 vote.

Kubacki, an IPA board member and representative of the city’s many rental equipment suppliers, is leading the opposition to the country’s proposed new taxes by asking that we attend a Nov. 19 public hearing and fax letters ASAP to the county commissioners.

Cook County Board president John Stroger has proposed a 2004 budget that includes 1) a new 4% county tax on the rental of all personal property, modeled after the city’s 6% rental tax and 2) a one-fourth percent increase in the county’s share of sales tax.

If enacted, the combined city and county tax on rentals would be raised to a record 10%. And it would make Chicago’s 9% sales tax the highest in the U.S.

With the vote coming up Dec. 9, there’s no time to lose. Opposition to these two tax proposals can be registered by 1) writing or calling the 17 county commissioners (listed below) and 2) attending a Nov. 19 public hearing at 10 a.m. in the County Building boardroom, room 569, 118 N. Clark.

“There is a very real chance that a majority of the 17 commissioners will vote down this proposal,” Kubacki said. “But the stakes are high — both for us, and for the political forces who are in favor of these new taxes.”

Here are Kubacki’s letter-writing recommendations:

Write a letter to President Stroger stating your position. Send a copy of it, along with a brief cover letter, to each of the 16 other commissioners. (A draft of the letter he intends to send follows, but asks that you don’t copy it. “Your letter will carry more weight if it’s in your own words,” he said.)

Some points you may wish to include in your own words:

  1. That our industry has been in decline due to governmental subsidies offered by other states and foreign countries but is now poised to recover, thanks to the new state tax incentive, and these new taxes will work directly against that goal.
  2. That we are disproportionately impacted by a rental tax, since practically all the equipment and machinery used in visual media production is supplied on a rental basis.
  3. That we already suffer a 6% cost disadvantage since Chicago is the only major city in the U.S. that charges a tax to our industry, and raising that to 10% would be very damaging.
  4. That the new taxes will be counterproductive to the county’s finances since they will discourage production from taking place here. Consequently, the county is likely to lose the other tax revenues (primarily sales tax) it takes in now rather than get more revenue.
  5. Certainly not least, that you would prefer to not lose your livelihood because the county raised taxes that chased away your employers or your customers.

Address the letter to John Stroger, Jr., Cook County Board President, Cook County Board of Commissioners, County Building, 118 N. Clark St., Room 567, Chicago, 60602. Then fax the letter to President Stroger at 312/443-4397.

Additionally, please write a very brief cover letter and address it to each of the other commissioners with a copy of your Stroger letter. Something like:

Dear Commissioner _____,

As the enclosed copy of my letter to President Stroger explains, the tax increases included in the proposed 2004 Cook County budget will have a very damaging effect on my employment or business. Please do not vote to enact these tax increases, etc.

You can determine which Cook County district in which you live or have your business by accessing the Cook County website at www.cookcountygov.com/secretary/HomePage_Links/ board_of_commissioners_of_cook_c.htm.

Then click on the “District” link next to each commissioner’s name to see the areas included in that district. If you’re in Chicago, you’ll need to know what ward you’re in.

Once you determine which commissioner is your district, you can mention that you reside/work in his/her district in your cover letter to that commissioner. Regardless, please write to each of the commissioners.

The address for all of the commissioners is the same as the one above. Their names and fax numbers, all 312 area code, are as follows:

Earlean Collins, 603-3696
Bobbie L. Steele, 603-4055
Jerry Butler, 603-5671
John Stroger, Jr., 443-4397
Deborah Sims, use main county fax, 603-4683
Joan Patricia Murphy, 603-4683
Joseph Mario Moreno, 603-3759
Roberto Maldonado, 603-4683
Peter N. Silvestri, 443-1154
John P. Daley, 603-6688
Gregg Goslin, 603-3686
Carl R. Hansen, 603-4683
Elizabeth Ann Doody Gorman, 603-2014
Mike Quigley 603-4683
Larry Suffredin, 603-3622
Anthony J. Peraica, 603-4683
Forest Claypool, 773/832-4663

If you are comfortable with speaking, please call the Secretary of the Board at 312/603-6400, and register to speak at the hearing. Speakers, who will allotted three minutes, will be asked to bring 30 copies of your “testimony,” which in this case is your letter to Stroger.

A good source of more general information is Commissioner Suffredin’s website at: www.suffredin.org. Click on 2004 Budget, “County” on the left side.

Kubacki can be reached at 312/440-4400.

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