Taglegislature

Why food and drinks cost more downtown

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is a quasi-governmental body created by the Illinois legislature, similarly to how it created the Chicago Transit Authority. The authority is also known as McPier. McPier is able to add 1% sales tax to the sale of food and drinks in three areas in Chicago, apparently to support the operations of Navy Pier (a place I avoid) and McCormick Place. I’m writing this post because of an article I read on Crain’s Chicago Business about Chicago having the highest restaurant tax rate that failed to describe the area in question.

The main area is downtown, although the boundaries extend far beyond downtown. I first came encountered the tax as a manager of the Jamba Juice at 1322 S Halsted Street (at Maxwell Street) in the University Village development on UIC’s south campus. The other two areas encompass Midway (MDW) and O’Hare airports (ORD). I haven’t mapped them to see exactly how much land beyond the airports the areas encompass.

The downtown area is described in 70 ILCS 210, section 13, as follows:

(b) (3) that portion of the City of Chicago located within the following area: Beginning at the point 150 feet west of the intersection of the west line of North Ashland Avenue and the north line of West Diversey Avenue, then north 150 feet, then east along a line 150 feet north of the north line of West Diversey Avenue extended to the shoreline of Lake Michigan, then following the shoreline of Lake Michigan (including Navy Pier and all other improvements fixed to land, docks, or piers) to the point where the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway extended east to that shoreline intersect, then west along the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway to a point 150 feet west of the west line of South Ashland Avenue, then north along a line 150 feet west of the west line of South and North Ashland Avenue to the point of beginning.

View Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority boundaries in a larger map. I created this map by following the directions in the block quoted text above. Do not use this map to determine if your business is required to collect and remit the McPier tax. It’s not an accurate map: I didn’t measure 150 feet from any street line – I guessed.

Also interesting: all drinks (alcoholic and sodas) and food sold on boats that arrive at or depart Lake Michigan shores within the area described above are subject to the tax. And more interesting is that sales at stores whose principal income is from drinks (alcoholic and sodas) and food for off-site but immediate consumption are also subject to the tax. You can supply the Illinois Department of Revenue with your sales tax information.

I like what Bonnie McGrath said in the Chicago Journal last year:

Is this fair? Why should we South Loopers–not to mention the other neighborhoods near downtown–have to pay extra for restaurant food? What exactly are we getting that other Chicago residents don’t get that we have to pay an extra tax?

I’d also like to know why McPier needs additional revenue to supplement the millions (maybe billions?) it revenue it receives from vendor fees, events, rents, and other sources in the operation of Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

McPier also gets a cut of hotel room bookings.

Should Cook County become a state?

“A state Republican legislator has introduced a bill to the Illinois General Assembly to separate the Chicago’s county from the state–effectively making the midwestern city the 51st state in the union” via Yahoo! News.

I’m just thinking aloud here:

  • We could fix our own transit funding issues. We wouldn’t have to compete with transit funding for downstate agencies (at the state level, competition at the federal level would still exist).
  • We’d be a very small state, 5.3 million.
  • Metra would be tough to deal with, unless it came under CTA control first! Har har.
  • I think this could make the State of Chicago a larger economic powerhouse without the meddling of so many different legislators.

What else would be different if Chicago (and Cook county) was its own state?

“These liberal policies are an insult to the traditional values of downstate families,” Mitchell told the Decatur Tribune. “When I talk to constituents, one of the biggest things I hear is ‘Chicago should be its own state . . . .Our voters’ voices were drowned out by Chicago.”

That’s kind of funny. Like Chicagoans are a bunch of abortion-having, dolphin-saving, vegan, bisexual couples.

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