Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she'll do everything she can to prevent layoffs to close the county budget gap.
Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) wants the County Recorder of Deeds office closed to save money.
Fritchey is proposing a county wide voter referendum to merge the office's functions into the Cook County Clerk’s Office. The move not only would make operations more efficient for taxpayers, he said, but it also would save the county about $1 million a year.
“We need to look to how we can make county government smarter, better and more efficient,” said Fritchey in a statement. “I believe that it makes no sense to have an $11.7 million, 206-employee agency tasked solely with record-keeping."
Fritchey said he feels confident the public, if given the choice, will vote for the change. He plans to introduce a resolution to the Cook County Board to place the referendum question on the November 2012 General Election ballot.
If approved, the offices would be consolidated by the end of 2015, he said.
In July, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle confirmed Cook County's 2012 budget has a $300 million hole.
Preckwinkle attributed the county's projected loss to delayed collection of Cook County Hospital collection fees and reduction in sales tax, among other issues. She said layoffs are "inevitable" to help balance the budget.
"I think it will be very hard to do this budget without layoffs," Preckwinkle said, "but the magnitude of layoffs is the question, and I anticipate that we'll get great cooperation from our labor unions and that we'll be able to minimize layoffs."