State of the City (copy)

Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong speaks at the State of the City address in Kankakee in April. 

KANKAKEE — By a series of five 13-0 votes at last week’s Kankakee City Council meeting, the sales-tax sharing agreements appear to finally be a part of the city’s history.

The council approved the series of settlements between the Chicago area Regional Transportation Authority, Cook County Board and sales-tax sharing partners.

The settlements dealt with the program from 2014 to present.

The settlements were discussed in closed session, and details of the agreements have not been released. Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong said the matter could not be discussed yet because of pending approvals from other governmental bodies.

Aldermen questioned on the agreements also noted they were instructed not to publicly discuss the settlements. The Journal has filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the agreements.

The agreements were unanimously approved. Second Ward Alderwoman Stacy Gall was absent from last week’s meeting.

Wells-Armstrong noted the cash settlements will not harm the city’s budget as money collected from the agreements had been placed in a separate account as it became clear some of tax-sharing agreements would be challenged.

Tax-sharing agreements, started in 2000 under the Mayor Donald Green administration, had been a staple of the city’s budget for several years.

The program began to be questioned by the RTA, Cook County and the City of Chicago.

The Monday settlements were for only selected sales-tax agreements, not the entirety of the program, which did net the city’s budget $2 million to $2.5 million annually during much of its existence.

In March 2019 in a 6-0 ruling, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed a previous Illinois Appellate Court ruling and denied the city of Chicago from filing future complaints against Kankakee.

This ruling upheld a previous Kankakee County Circuit Court ruling which had stated Kankakee’s sales-tax sharing practice as legal.

Through the program, online retail companies from outside of Kankakee would establish an office here and then run purchases through this office.

As a result, the transaction was credited to Kankakee and Kankakee County and the two governmental bodies would receive sales taxes. At the time, the city had a 6.25 percent sales-tax rate, of which 5 percent went to the state and a quarter-percent to Kankakee County.

In return, Kankakee would rebate a portion of its 1-percent take back to the company.

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