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Commissioner Suffredin's Statement on 2004 Budget and Proposed Taxes

From November 24, 2003 Press Conference

I want to protect Cook County taxpayers from needless tax increases. The effort to cut the proposed budget without jeopardizing jobs or services is possible because of all the extra money that is hidden in the proposed budget. This hidden money is never intended to be spent. Truth in budgeting will allow all citizens to know what County Government actually costs and how tax dollars are spent.

I, along with other Commissioners, propose not only stopping the proposed tax increases but actually lowering existing taxes. This can be accomplished by cutting last year’s budget by 2%. The actual spending levels from last year are even lower than that!

County Government should not be overtaxing its citizens. County budgets have continued to rise while there has been an annual fund surplus for the last three years of more than $200,000,000. In addition, the budgets have fully funded the salaries, cost-of-living-adjustment increases and benefits of nearly 1000 jobs that have not been and will never be filled. These facts have denied County taxpayers an efficient government.

The proposed 2004 budget with a sales tax and lease tax increases shows excessive appropriations above actual spending that could lead to a $300,000,000 surplus a year from now.

Our proposal will require the County Board to be more vigilant in monitoring the spending habits of the County. Also, County managers will be required to manage more effectively by meeting tighter budgeted numbers. These managers will also have to report changes of circumstances to the County Board more often than once a year. Nothing in this proposal will require any cuts in services or jobs. We are requiring managing within the actual reality of expenditures, not inflated appropriations.

Our opponents are experts in the use of hyperbole to scare employees and those in need. This is unnecessary. Hopefully there will be a positive public discussion of this budget in the days between now and when we vote December 9th. This spirited discussion should both improve the quality of service Cook County provides its citizens and prevent higher taxes.

 
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