January 6, 2004
Since our last Cook County Board meeting December 16, 2003, I have been engaged in negotiations with 13 of the 16 Commissioners. These meetings have all been held in accordance with the Open Meetings Act with no more than 4 Commissioners meeting at any one time. In addition, I have met with the financial staff of the President's office.
My meetings have been held to insure that the People of Cook County receive required services without excessive taxation. The meetings have attempted to resolve differences between various proposals.
Commissioner Earlean Collins and her staff have taken a leadership role in developing supporting materials that make it clear there is no need for any new taxes or increases in any existing taxes.
Finance Chair John Daley has taken a leadership role by daily meeting with Commissioners to resolve the differences on the budget.
After all this work it is clear that there is a consensus by the majority of the Board to oppose any new or increased taxes.
President Stroger's budget proposes $58 million in new or increased taxes. The proposed budget of $2,994 million must be reduced by $58 million dollars.
It is clear the Stroger Administration is resistant to any change in the spending plan. Either the Administration changes that position or the Board must impose spending reductions through properly filed amendments.
While State law gives the Board until the end of February to pass a budget common sense tells you the Board should act as soon as possible. Therefore, the Board should meet immediately to vote on the budget amendments. These amendments fairly protect the rights of all Cook County citizens and employees.
Finally, this budget process has highlighted the lack of scrutiny that the County Budget has gotten in the past. For a better Cook County we must show the public that we are fighting for them and resolve this impasse by not increasing taxes and cutting the current spending plan.