Border Suburbs Worried About Looming Impact Of Cook County Soda Tax

CHICAGO (CBS) — With two days until Cook County’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages goes into effect, border suburbs have been left wondering what impact it will have on their businesses.

Tinley Park, for one, finds itself in both Cook County and Will County. Village administrator Dave Niemeyer said Will County already has lower property taxes, sales taxes, and gas taxes, and he’s concerned the new Cook County tax on sweetened beverages could be the last straw for some business owners who might move elsewhere.

“Gas tax, sales tax, property tax; there’s been the county’s regulations on minimum wage, and I think it’s just a cumulative effect of all of them I think is what frustrates a lot of our Cook County business community,” he said.

Niemeyer said gas stations on the Will County side already make a big deal about lower taxes than Cook County. He noted a gas station on 183rd and Harlem advertises that it does not have Cook County taxes as a way to draw more customers.

“Certainly, I haven’t had anybody say to me that they’re looking at leaving because of this, but I think most people are going to see what happens; but obviously some of the businesses are concerned about it,” he said.

The tax would add a penny per ounce to the cost of buying all sugary soft drinks, lemonades, teas, sports drinks, and sweetened powders and syrups used for fountain drinks in Cook County. It also would include drinks made with artificial sweeteners.

A judge blocked the tax on June 30, one day before it was originally supposed to go into effect, after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association filed a lawsuit challenging the legality and constitutionality of the tax. The judge dismissed that lawsuit on Friday, allowing the county to put the tax into effect, which county officials said will happen Wednesday, barring the possibility IRMA files an appeal and receives another injunction.

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