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Commissioner might split from anti-tax bloc

Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

For the last three years, a slim majority of nine Cook County commissioners has prevented anything but cigarette taxes from increasing in county government.

That could change this year, as one of the nine has signaled a willingness to consider a tax increase.

Gregg Goslin, a Glenview Republican whose district covers parts of Arlington Heights, Hoffman Estates, Inverness and the Barrington area said Tuesday he doesn’t know where else the necessary funds could come from.

Already, the county estimates the budget deficit for 2007 will be $163 million. Much of that comes from discontinued federal funding to care for illegal immigrant patients at Stroger Hospital. The county lost $120 million there, Goslin noted.

“That money’s not coming back,” he said.

Goslin favors making cuts, but even if that’s done, he estimates the savings will be, at most, $10 million.

No specific proposals for how to cover the projected deficit have been put forth, and the budget process doesn’t usually get started until fall.

That process is likely to be complicated this year by the illness of board President John Stroger, who suffered a stroke in March. Stroger’s son Todd, a Chicago alderman, said his father would make a decision in July on whether to run in November’s general election.

Finance Committee Chairman John Daley said Tuesday if Stroger does not run, a minority candidate should replace him.

Stroger’s chief of staff, James Whigham, said Tuesday he met with John Stroger Sunday. He maintained the president, who was sitting up and talking, is improving.

“We talked about some things we needed to talk about,” he said. He declined to specify what.

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