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Tinley Park officials call Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax ‘unfair’

Tinley Park Board of Trustees decided Aug. 15 to adopt a resolution expressing its opposition toward the controversial Cook County sweetened beverage tax.

The tax officially went into effect Wednesday, Aug. 2. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association – a state retail organization that initially filed a lawsuit against the tax – has followed up with an appeal.

Moving forward, Tinley officials are to explain to the Cook County Board of Commissioners how the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages negatively impacts their residents and retailers.

“Tinley Park is in kind of a difficult situation simply because we’re a collar county, Will County,” Mayor Jacob Vandenberg said. “It does have an unfair playing for several of our retailers, so we will continue to fight for them, as well as our residents who would like to indulge in a sports drink or a pop of some sort.”

In this particular situation, board action does not allow Tinley Park the green light to opt out of the tax.

As applied, the tax increases the cost of a $.99 can of soda to $1.11 and a 20-ounce bottle from $2.19 to $2.39.

In a 5-0 vote, the Board adopted a resolution opposing the sweetened beverage tax.

Trustee Michael Pannitto disclosed that he abstained from voting on this measure because he works for Cook County.

Trustees discuss employee residency requirements

Also at the meeting, officials reviewed a municipal code that required Village employees live within the town’s limits.

The new rule – if approved at a later date – could allow full-time employees to live 30 miles away from Tinley Park. The issue was last discussed at the Village’s Committee of the Whole meeting held Tuesday, Aug. 8.

“Being a member of this committee, we worked hard on this,” Pannitto said. “I was against removing [the] residency requirement, especially for police.

“However, police [agreed to a new] contract [and] no longer have the requirement.”

Board action could provide the Village with a greater ability to reach potential new hires.

“This seems to be the best compromise,” Pannitto said.

Downtown TIF study approved

Officials also looked to improve Tinley Park’s downtown area by establishing a new tax increment financing district.

A TIF – which freezes the tax base to use new dollars – helps spur redevelopment in qualifying areas as defined by the state statute.

This measure requires the Board to authorize the mayor and village clerk to enter into an agreement between the Village of Tinley Park and Ehlers & Associates to research eligibility to use the economic development tool.

According to the agreement, Tinley Park is to pay $50,000 to provide for a TIF feasibility study.

Pannitto recognized that everybody wants a vibrant, successful downtown, and said it will take some help from the Village to make it possible.

“However, I’ve been in favor of a different solution — something out of the box.” he said. “Perhaps, the money went to businesses directly rather than developers.”

Several residents echoed that sentiment stating the danger and risk of TIFs being abused.

The measure as approved in a 4-2 vote will help Tinley Park in re-establishing its sixth TIF District to replace the existing the one for the downtown area. Trustees Pannitto and Cynthia Berg were the dissenting votes.


Round it up

A brief recap of action from the Aug. 15 meeting of the Tinley Park Village Board:

• Board of Trustees authorized a contract with Cargill Deicing Technology for the Village’s annual purchase of bulk salt for fiscal year 2018. The Village is to receive 5,500 tons of salt at a rate of $44.87 per ton.

• Trustees granted a special use for a Verizon Wireless cell tower to be installed at the southeast corner of 6775 Prosperi Dr. Also granted is a 14-foot height variation from the allowed maximum height of 100 feet tall.

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