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Second Cook County official commits to 17 percent cuts

Saturday, January 06, 2007
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

A second independently elected county official committed to making 17 percent in cuts Friday.
Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said that through a combination of cuts and revenue enhancements, she’ll reach the 17 percent budget reduction Cook County Board President Todd Stroger has requested.
“I’m going to meet their target. I’m still finalizing some details. It’s a combination of deletions and cutting line items and (increasing) revenues,” said Pappas, who said she will have more details Monday.
Stroger says such cuts are necessary to fill a budget hole that he won’t put a number on. Estimates have ranged from $300 million to $500 million.
 Pappas has been at the forefront of cutting her budget over the past few years, reducing steadily both her number of employees and the amount her office spends. Her commitment to a 17 percent cut comes on top of those yearly cuts.
Pappas joins Cook County Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, who announced Thursday he also would effectively cut 17 percent by reducing costs 14 percent and increasing revenues 3 percent.
But officials from other elected offices privately grumbled Friday that Moore’s cuts were more smoke and mirrors than substance.
Moore is cutting $1.5 million and plans to raise another $300,000 in new revenue for a total of $1.8 million. That amounts to just 12 percent of his $15.3 million budget. And of the $1.5 million in cuts, $450,000 is in furloughs for employees, which union members cannot be forced to take. If that amount is discounted, his savings drop to 8.8 percent.
Moore argues that his total budget of $15.3 million should not be counted, but only the $10.2 million amount that comes from county coffers. The rest, he says, is generated through fees. And he concedes union members can’t be forced to take the furlough days, but their alternative is more layoffs. When the $1.8 million is divided by the $10.2 million corporate account, that amount is 17 percent.
Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley, who was a strong critic of former President John Stroger but now has become at least on occasion allied with his son Todd Stroger, concedes there has been some playing with numbers, but even cuts of 8 percent or 10 percent are progress in a county known for bloat, he said.
Quigley has criticized other elected officials who so far have refused to cut their budget at all. If those officials insist on that, Quigley said Friday, they should back it up by holding a news conference calling for a tax increase.
President Todd Stroger has vowed he will bridge the $500 million deficit in the county’s $3.1 billion budget without raising taxes.
Cuts: Some dispute one official’s budget cut claims

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