Business Owners, Alderman Oppose Proposed Alcohol Tax Hike

CHICAGO (CBS) — Stop picking on the liquor industry – that was the message Sunday afternoon at a popular Chicago watering hole.

As CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports, a local alderman joined a group of business owners and others opposed to a proposed Cook County alcohol tax hike.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has proposed hiking taxes on beer, wine and liquor to help fill a $315 million dollar budget hole.

But opponents argue if those taxes go up again, the county will lose out in the long run.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Michele Fiore reports

Bobby McGuire, the owner of Butch McGuire’s Pub on the Near North Side, said an alcohol tax hike will hurt an already struggling restaurant and bar industry.

Other opponents said it could kill Chicago’s tourism and convention business, by forcing people to go elsewhere.

Opponents were urging Preckwinkle to find another way to get the $11 million in revenue an alcohol tax hike would create, but Preckwinkle’s office said the county’s alcohol tax hasn’t been hiked in more than 20 years.

However, Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd), whose ward includes scores of bars and restaurants in the downtown area, called the tax hike a bad idea.

“I respect the work the Cook County board has to do and that they have a tough budget to balance as well, but I’d ask that they would look for another revenue source, other than this one that could hurt the downtown economy,” Reilly said.

John O’Hara with the Illinois Policy Institute said he’s against an increase of any amount. He said Chicago is already paying among the highest entertainment taxes in the country.

“Fifty-six percent of the cost of that is already going to the government and it’s not going to the establishment that sells it to you, employs people and creates jobs,” he said.

Business men and women gathered at longtime pub, Butch Maguire’s on Division Street, ahead of the Bears game as fans were positioning themselves in front of the big screens.

“We will have to figure out, if this law passes as it’s written, if we want to stay in business or if we want to move out of the county,” said Chuck Levi, president of Iwan Ries & Co. tobacco company.

Other opponents said Preckwinkle should work harder to cut spending, instead of raising any county taxes.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) has another idea. He is proposing decriminalizing small marijuana possession cases in Chicago, which he said will save the county far more money in the long run.

  • Dylan

    Aldermen should give up their $1200 a month per diem check they get on top of their overpaid salaries and benefits. Let them give that up. OR we should slim down to 10 alderman instead of the 50 that don’t do much. It costs a million dollars a year to run each alderman’s office. If they get rid of 40 of them, that would save 40 million dollars. EZ

    • Mary

      good idea but the Aldermen are in the city & it has nothing to do with cook county. please try to stay on what the story is about.

  • Mary

    everyone oi know already gos to indiana or dupage county for cigarettes,they’ll just pick up their booze there too. sounds like this will be another money loser for cook county.

    • workinman2

      Exactly! I think the plan is to herd some people out of the city in order to gain areas of property that certain people want as a result of the demise of areas due to the massive foreclosures in areas that are littered with liquor stores and impoverished areas in the city close to the lakefront this plan has been going on way before the demolition of the projects !

  • Joe Lake

    Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (12th) is campaigning for reelection as the 32nd Ward Democratic Committeeman in the March 20, 2012 primary election. Commissioner Fritchey was first elected as committeeman in in 2008.

    Commissioner Fritchey is using the Pot Ticket issue to garner publicity for his reelection as the 32nd Ward Democratic committeeman, instead of focusing on the real duties as a committeeman–which he has neglected for over three years..

  • workinman2

    Tax us for our dogs, tax people with cats too and, people who are not registered , we should get millions of dollars in revenue !!!!

  • Smash Crasher

    And you IDIOTS keep electing them year after year after year. Don’t blame the Democratic politicians. BLAME YOURSELVES you terrified Democratic sheep. You all deserve to be taxed out of existence while the Democratic politicians continue to become millionaire s by stealing your money. FOOLS!

    • fred

      Yeah, cuz the Republicans are REAL good with money.

      • Jim Hamilton

        fred the Dems have Chicago by the balls open your eyes and look around

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