Cook County Budget Cuts Could Lead to Closure of Suburban Courthouse

With Cook County's controversial sweetened beverage tax defeated, Board President Toni Preckwinkle has called for major cutbacks. Those cutbacks could include some potentially drastic changes, including the closure of an entire courthouse.

While it's still in the proposal stage, the Bridgeview courthouse - one of five across Chicago's suburbs - is the one at the center of discussions of a possible closure.

Located in the southwest suburbs, the Bridgeview courthouse, is certainly convenient for those who live nearby, but according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, perhaps closing it is an idea the county should consider as it looks to slash its budget.

"Nobody likes these kinds of cuts obviously, but look we gotta look at everything and this is something he put forward," Commissioner Richard Boykin said.

Conversations around the closure of the courthouse have also led other county leaders to wonder if one of the City of Chicago's courts might face the budget axe as well.

Without the beverage tax revenue, Preckwinkle has asked Dart and all of the other Cook County department heads to cut their budgets by 10 percent.

"I think we have to at this point do a real reckoning and assessment of where our resources are going," Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said. "Certainly we want to be able, with the caseloads that we have, to effectively do those cases in a way that makes fiscal sense."

But Foxx noted the number of homicides in Chicago, and as the city hires more police officers, asked why the county would want her to cut her budget.

"When they have more officers who are going to be able to effectuate more arrests and build cases, it it our office who has to prosecute them," she said.

With regards to the courthouse closing, Dart said Bridgeview is not as busy for his office as the others.

"Can I and will I be helpful in trying to address this budget issue? Absolutely, I'll do anything I can," he said.

A spokesman for Preckwinkle pointed out that closing Bridgeview - even if approved - would take time and not bring immediate savings, making it far from a done deal.

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