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Officials set to oppose county cuts

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Most of Cook County's top officials are expected to testify Wednesday that they cannot sustain a 10 percent cut in their 2008 budgets. Commissioner John Daley (D-Chicago), chairman of the Finance Committee, said he has received letters from most countywide elected officials and department heads, nearly all of them saying their operations could not withstand another round of spending reductions. With the County Board at an impasse in its budget deliberations, members last week directed county officials to be ready Wednesday to discuss their view of an across-the-board 10 percent cut from the levels proposed in Board President Todd Stroger's budget for next year. The directive did not mean board members necessarily would cut spending by that amount. But with Stroger unable to muster enough votes to win the 2-percentage-point sales tax increase that he wants, members have said their other option is to trim expenditures. Commissioners have until the end of February to pass a budget and increasingly it looks as though they may go the distance. Also Tuesday, Stroger cast his first vote since he was elected County Board president. The state's attorney's office advised Stroger shortly after he took office that he could cast a vote only to break ties on the board. The question arose because Stroger, in a change from tradition, does not also sit as one of the board's 17 commissioners. Stroger voted on a procedural matter to reject a wording change to a resolution he had sponsored regarding the board's support for gambling expansion legislation in Springfield as long as the county government gets a percentage of the new money. Stroger said he intends to exercise his right to vote whenever he gets the opportunity.


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