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Commissioners Approve $2.9B County Budget

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Commissioners Approve $2.9B County Budget
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle addresses the Board of Commissioners during budget negotiations on Nov. 18, 2011.

Cook County commissioners on Friday voted overwhelmingly to approve President Toni Preckwinkle's $2.9 billion spending plan.

But unlike the budget passed last march, Preckwinkle's first, it wasn't unanimous. After seven hours of debate on 64 amendments, Commissioner William Beavers was the sole "no" vote among the group of 17.

The approval means tax hikes for alcohol and cigarettes and the layoff of hundreds of county employees, moves Preckwinkle said were necessary to close a $315 million budget gap.

In a statement, she said it was a "comprehensive and forward-thinking budget that incorporates key structural changes to county operations and makes significant investments in public health and public safety."

The Chicago Sun-Times late Friday offered up an overview of how the budget will affect residents' wallets.

While Preckwinkle is getting the additional revenue she wanted, she couldn't coax the county's labor unions to agree to her proposed personnel reductions.

"Our negotiations with our labor unions and our negotiations with various members of the board of commissioners has substantially reduced the potential layoffs," she said.

Her proposal to cut more than 1,050 county jobs was dwindled down to about 775. Of cuts, 186 will come from the Cook County Health and Hospital System, 129 from the Clerk of the Circuit Court and 87 from the State’s Attorney’s office.

A call for eight unpaid work days was reduced to a single furlough day -- the day after Thanksgiving 2012 -- for all county employees.

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