The constitutionality of a 1% restaurant tax that would help back $937 million of revenue bonds for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority in Chicago will be debated before the Illinois Supreme Court on Oct. 1.
Authority officials have expressed confidence that the state high court will uphold the tax on restaurant meals in a special downtown Chicago and airport district.
The plaintiffs, restaurant owners and patrons, contend that how the taxing district was set up violates the state constitution's guarantee of equal protection.
James Fricke, director of budget and treasury management for the authority, said it will be prepared to issue the bonds this fall if the court rules in its favor.
In addition to the restaurant tax, the state legislature last year approved a 6% tax on auto rentals in Cook County, a 2.5% tax on hotel rooms in Chicago, and a fee of 75 cents to $1 per ride on taxi, limousine, and bus trips to and from the city's two airports. Revenues from the tax package were earmarked for the bond issue.
A second lawsuit, which challenges the constitutionality of the limousine ride fee by suburban and out-of-state limousine companies in DuPage County Court, will be dismissed, according to James McGurk, the plaintiff's attorney.
In its place, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Mr. McGurk said the new lawsuit will fight the limousine ride fee on federal constitutional and statutory grounds.
Spiegel Inc. has announced it will move out of Chicago after its rejection last week of the city's six proposed relocation sites, which includes one that had been slated for a $10.8 billion airport.
Debble Koopman, spokeswoman for the catalog company, said the airport site in the so-called Lake Calumet area on Chicago's southeast side was considered the city's "strongest" offer.
Ms. Koopman said Spiegel rejected the city's proposal because they failed to meet the company's overall criteria, which include access to highways.
She said Spiegel is relocating because its current multi-floor facility, which has been in Chicago for over a century, is "antiquated."
Mayor Richard M. Daley expressed regret over Spiegel's decision.
"My staff has worked around the clock and bent over backwards to prepare a package of tax incentives and proposals that could convince Spiegel to stay in Chicago." the mayor said in a press release. "It is unfortunate for the city and Spiegel employees."
Two months ago, the mayor dropped his support for a new airport at Lake Calument after the Illinois General Assembly failed to create an authority to supervise development of the project and oversee the city's O'Hare and Midway airports.
According to Ms. Koopman, Spiegel's short list for a new distribution center includes three Illinois cities: Champaign, Decatur, and Plainfield.