Updated 07/15/15 – 4:35 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The Cook County Board voted Wednesday to approve a sales tax hike proposed by Board President Toni Preckwinkle, an increase she railed against five years ago.READ MORE: Englewood Shooting Injures One Man, Damages Parole Officer's Car
The board approved the hike in a 9-7 vote, with one present vote. The sales tax hike would mean Chicagoans would be paying the highest sales tax rate in the nation: 10.25 percent, including state, city, county, and mass transit shares.
Rates in the suburbs would vary from one municipality to the next.
The increase goes into effect Jan 1.
Not long after the vote, Preckinwkle faced reporters to say her administration and the board had done all it could to save money and could not wait for Springfield to act.
“By virtue of this action, we can look forward to having the revenue needed to begin addressing our Pension Fund shortfall, as well as the higher legacy debt service payments that are on the horizon.
The revenues we obtain from the sales tax will also allow us to direct needed funding to infrastructure throughout the County through projects that would otherwise be delayed because of diversions from the road fund,” she said.
But as she said before, Preckinkle said if the state legislature and the governor agree witht he county pension relief plan she’ll re-examine how much revenue is needed.
Preckwinkle won office in 2010 by pledging to roll back what remained of an unpopular penny-on-the-dollar sales tax hike enacted by her predecessor, Todd Stroger, but she has defended her proposal to reinstate that tax hike. Preckwinkle has said the county’s $6.5 billion pension shortfall makes it necessary to raise taxes, and there is no support for a property tax hike.
She was lobbying the 17 board members as late as Tuesday to get their support for her sales tax plan.
Wednesday morning, Preckwinkle told commissioners the county cannot afford to wait for state lawmakers to act on pension changes she is seeking, because the county must inform the state of its sales tax rate by October 1.READ MORE: 8-Year-Old Girl Dies After Being Shot In Head In Little Village; Man Critically Wounded