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County Board members get 27% hike for offices
GOVERNMENT | Some say they have scrimped enough

Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEVE PATTERSON

Enough of the belt-tightening, already -- it's time to spend some money again.
That's what some Cook County Commissioners said Monday in defending what is a 27 percent increase in spending for their offices and new jobs for each one of them.
Board President Todd Stroger is proposing the hikes as part of his 2008 budget, and while some say they won't take it, others say they want it and more.
"I'm not going to cut any staff -- I'm just not going to do it," said Commissioner Earlean Collins, the only commissioner to defy demands last year to cut 17 percent from her office budget.
Commissioner Tim Schneider said he never asked for, nor will he take, the $90,000 in extra salaries Stroger is offering his office, saying the county's "in dire straits" and the board should "keep county government at the most efficient level we can" by giving back extra money.
More employees sought
Commissioner Joan Murphy said "maybe [Schneider] doesn't do the amount of work the rest of us do."
"Feel free, if you want, to give yours back, but I'm keeping mine," she said.
Murphy later apologized to Schneider for the verbal attack.
Commissioner Liz Gorman said adding so much to the budget "defies logic."
But Commissioner Deborah Sims suggested that after a year of cuts and holding the line on spending, the board needs even more employees, especially for those who chair committees or who have far-reaching or poor districts.
"I thought all of us were in this together, trying to help the county's bottom line," Commissioner Tony Peraica countered. "It appears some are helping the bottom line more than others."
The board has the option to cut any budgets, including their own, before a final budget is passed.
Stroger is proposing raising the sales, gas and parking taxes to pay for the increases, along with other hikes, that make up a $3.2 billion budget.


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