Commuters: Chicago tax is off the rail
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org September 28, 2011 10:22PM
Commuters exit a Metra train at Union Station Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011, in downtown Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 30, 2011 12:41AM
JOLIET — Chicago officials this week tossed around the idea of a commuter tax — charging suburbanites who work in the city of Chicago a 1 percent income tax — as a way to bring in additional revenue.
The idea was one of a list of potential cost cuts and money makers compiled by the city’s Inspector General Joe Ferguson that could reduce a budget shortfall.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ruled out tax hikes for now, but some aldermen favored the commuter tax notion.
The idea didn’t sit well with commuters, however, nor potential commuters.
Andrea Laue of Mokena, who has been commuting to Chicago for 15 years for work, said she thinks the income tax idea is “absolutely ridiculous.”
“Since I work in the city, I am already buying food and drinks, retail items, and eating out at restaurants, and paying the higher city and county taxes that are imposed on most of these items. By working in the city, I am already generating revenue for the city, and now they want to penalize me for it,” Laue said. “This on top of Metra talking about raising the cost of train tickets. I’m not going to be able to afford to work downtown anymore!”
If the city decides to impose the tax, Laue said she would look for a new job in the suburbs before she would move to the city.
Dave Wilson of Joliet, who also commutes to Chicago for work, said the city aldermen who support the idea haven’t thought it through.
“They claim that they pay tolls to come into our suburbs, but tolls are the state’s money, used to incarcerate former city of Chicago officials and governors,” Wilson said. “Our sleepy suburban enclaves don’t see a cent of that. If the aldermen were serious about generating revenue, they’d look at their own bloated pensions and the swollen pensions of other city employees as a way to trim the fat.”
Mohan Rao of Tinley Park took a Metra train to Joliet Wednesday. He is a former commuter to Chicago, currently working as finance director for the village of Sauk Village.
“That’s ridiculous, they should not charge (commuters),” he said, adding that workers would no longer want to travel to Chicago for work.
Neiky Wilson and Brianna Harrison, both of Joliet, shared his sentiments. Both women had taken the Metra train from Joliet to Tinley Park for school Wednesday.
“That’s not right,” Wilson said of the idea. “We’ve got to travel such a far distance, then you’ve got to pay income tax just to go to your job to make money? I don’t think that’s fair.”
Even Chris Clott, a Chicago resident who commutes to Joliet for his job as dean of the College of Business and Health Administration at the University of St. Francis, shot the idea down.
“I think it’s one of the dumber ideas proposed,” Clott said, standing on the Union Station platform before boarding an afternoon Metra train to Chicago Wednesday. “There are enough reasons why people don’t want to be downtown, and you’ve got to add another one?”