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Watchdog group attacks county budget

Friday, January 06, 2006
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman

The Civic Federation, a government watchdog group, is opposing Cook County's 2006 proposed budget, saying it does nothing to solve "ongoing fiscal problems" at the county.

Board President John Stroger last month proposed a $3.1 billion 2006 budget that would increase the county tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack and cut 82 vacant positions from the county's 25,400-person work force.

"Cook County must act upon earlier stated commitments and use every tool available to better manage its resources rather than reflexively look to revenue increases to fund its operations," the federation's report says.

The group's recommendations are nearly identical to ones it made last year and include the elimination of annual seniority increases, privatization of janitorial services and consolidation of redundant departments at the bureau of health.

The Daily Southtown reported Thursday the bureau hasn't consolidated those departments, even though the 2005 budget required it to do so by the end of last year.

This is the third year in a row the federation has opposed the county's budget. Director Lawrence Msall plans to testify today at a public hearing.



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