In a preliminary 2013 budget report Wednesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle projected a $267.5 million shortfall.
According to a statement from the president, the rollback of former President Todd Stroger’s sales tax increase will cost the County $87.8 million. Other impacts on the budget include the County’s tobacco tax, a decline in court filings, and gas and diesel taxes.
The $267.5 million is an improvement on the almost $500 million preliminary projection in the 2011 fiscal year and the $315 million in 2012.
“This preliminary budget forecast is evidence we are making progress, but more work needs to be done to achieve the fiscal strength that I want on behalf of County taxpayers,” Preckwinkle said, and added that she and many others would face tough but necessary decisions to balance the budget in the next several months.
Preckwinkle announced the County would enact a partial hiring freeze with some exceptions and institute better practices for election spending to help fill in some of the $267 million gap.
She also noted that the County would be able to lean on pension reform in the years to come to help reduce budget shortfalls. The County is expected to spend upwards of $480 million on pension costs and health benefits in 2013 alone.
“We believe these steps will aid us in our efforts to present a balanced budget to the Cook County Board in October, but we know that there is much more work to do in the coming weeks,” Preckwinkle said.
Preckwinkle said a public hearing will be held July 18 so residents can weigh in on how to best balance the 2013 budget.