Preckwinkle: County Faces $487M Shortfall - NBC Chicago
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Preckwinkle: County Faces $487M Shortfall



    Preckwinkle: County Faces $487M Shortfall
    Toni Preckwinkle

    Incoming Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle met with several elected officials on Thursday and told them to cut their budgets because of a $487 million budget gap in the next fiscal year.

    Clerk David Orr, Sheriff Tom Dart and Treasurer Maria Pappas were asked to each cut their budgets by 21 percent over three quarters for the fiscal year after the budget is passed. That equals a 16 percent cut for each department for the year.

    "I made it abundantly clear that no one would be absolved from having to make cuts and no one would be alone in making cuts," said Preckwinkle, who assumes office in three weeks.

    She said the changes will start with her office: she's taking a 10 percent pay cut, consolidating services and doing desk audits to see if there are any redundant positions.

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    More than half of the budget deficit -- about $264 million -- comes from a loss of revenue, mainly the rollback of a controversial half-penny sales tax Cook County Board President Todd Stroger tried to veto. He said it was necessary to protect the county's $1 billion hospital and health care system.

    The remaining shortfall is due to an increase in expenditures of about $223 million. That includes employee contract obligations and an approximately $55 million settlement over a class-action lawsuit alleging thousands of jail inmates had their rights violated when they were strip-searched.

    Preckwinkle said the budget can be balanced if county officials cooperate.

    "Other governments have done this, it is not impossible," she said, citing examples with municipal and state budgets in Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio.