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John Daley backs consolidating tax roles

Thursday, July 13, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON Staff Reporter

Plans to consolidate functions of the Cook County clerk, assessor and treasurer got a boost Wednesday from the most powerful member of the County Board.

Commissioner John Daley cited budget constraints as the reason he wants the county to push the state Legislature to consolidate at least the property tax responsibilities carried out by each office.

That idea has been floating around since at least 1991 and has the support of Cook County Clerk David Orr, Assessor James Houlihan and Treasurer Maria Pappas, provided it saves taxpayer money and streamlines county services.

Though it came up in last year's legislative session, it went nowhere and has had no significant political muscle behind it.

But Daley also said the state should look at eliminating each office entirely, though he's focused on taxing functions and wants to see how much consolidating the board can do on its own.

Daley threw the idea out there after complaining about how he has asked each elected official to spend only 96 percent of their annual budget -- a move that could save the county $25 million if all agreed to it.

But since the clerk and assessor were among those who said they can't, Daley said it's time for the board to ensure they "get back to their core mission" and look at merging functions before 2008.

None of those elected officials supported raising taxes to operate, he said, "yet they wanted revenue for their individual offices."

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