Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.


Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.

Cook commissioners OK bigger staffs, deny mammogram funding

Thursday, February 28, 2008
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

On a day when a block of Cook County commissioners cried out for tax increases to pay for health care, most of the same commissioners chose to raise their own office staff budgets by 26 percent rather than give up some of that money to pay for poor women's mammograms.

The measure would have given up $1.1 million of the $1.6 million increase for commissioners' staffs in Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's budget and diverted that money to reduce a backlog of mammograms scheduled at Stroger Hospital.

The measure failed with every one of the four women on the board voting to keep the office budget increases.

"We're not willing to do that?" said an incredulous Forrest Claypool, who voted for the measure, which failed 9-8.

Commissioners' $85,000 annual salaries would not have changed either way. With an increased office budget, commissioners could choose to add to their staffs or give their existing staff members raises, or both. The office budget increase concerns only staff salaries, not anything like office supplies or travel and entertainment expenses.

Voting no on the mammogram measure were Gorman, Bill Beavers, Jerry Butler, Earlean Collins, Joseph Moreno, Joan Murphy, Peter Silvestri, Deborah Sims and Robert Steele.

Some of the commissioners said they were voting no because they had their own amendments giving back their offices' increases.

One of those was Liz Gorman, who represents portions of Des Plaines and Arlington Heights.

Gorman asked if some of her office budget increase could go to mammograms but made no formal motion to that effect, meaning the money just goes back into the general fund.

"You had your chance," cried out Claypool.

Right now commissioners have staffs of between 2˝ and five people. Full-time staff members' annual salaries range from $39,000 to $88,000.

The 17 commissioners now have an annual staff budget of about $5.5 million. So on average each commissioner gets about $322,000 for a staff.

The Cook County budget as it stands now would increase that allotment to about $6.9 million, meaning an average of $406,000 for each staff.

If the board had diverted money to the mammograms, the annual staff budget would change to about $5.9 million, or about $348,000 for each staff.

While commissioners make an $85,000 annual salary as set by law, for most the job is a part-time one. Some commissioners are lawyers or own businesses, or have other full-time jobs.

As the board continued meeting Wednesday night, it remained essentially in the same position it began the day, with a huge gap between revenue and expenditures.

The day started with a $283 million deficit, and it was not clear how much of that hole had been filled by some of the small amendments passed during the day -- like a vote to sell surplus county land, estimated to bring in $10 million or so.

Stroger is proposing an increase of 1.25 percentage points in the sales tax to balance the 2008 budget, but so far has only been able to garner eight votes -- one shy of the nine needed.

One of those voting no is Roberto Maldonado, who says that a sales tax is too regressive and would hurt senior citizens in his district.

Maldonado is instead proposing a quarter-point increase in the sales tax and five alternative taxes. Maldonado would increase taxes on jet fuel, heavy vehicles, and alcohol served in bars. He would also increase the county's use tax by a quarter-point and the county's hotel tax by one percent.

"I will not make a compromise on 1.25 percent," Stroger said. "We came down from 2 (percent)."

Another compromise offered came from Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who offered to vote for some unspecified taxes, perhaps a use tax, if Stroger would agree to placing the county hospital into temporary trusteeship.

If Stroger doesn't take either of the deals and pass some sort of budget by Friday night, he risks sending the county into a constitutional quagmire.

By law, the county cannot levy any money as of March 1 without having passed a balanced budget.

"We would have to go to court. We would have to ask the court if we could appropriate money for the jail, the hospital … (and) the sheriff's police," Stroger said.

If a budget is not passed by Friday night -- three months into the 2008 budget year -- there is a serious question as to whether the county, even if it passed a budget later, could collect the $700 million in property taxes it now does, said Patrick Driscoll, the Cook County state's attorney's head of the civil division bureau. That would leave a gaping hole in the county's $3.2 billion budget.

Asked if taking a lower tax increase than he wants would be better than possibly losing that amount, Stroger said no.

"We need to fund the system … at a rate that we're not coming back next year trying to figure out how we're going to fund the system," Stroger said.

Stroger's tax would raise $400 million to 500 million annually, more than the $280 million his administration needs for 2008. Over-raising taxes, Stroger says, would allow the system to operate without an additional tax hike in 2009 and 2010. The latter is an election year.

Stroger's administration is "cutting off its nose to spite its face," Commissioner Mike Quigley said.

Recent Headlines

City Club of Chicago: Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi
Friday, February 22, 2019
WGN Radio Chicago

Cook County Board approves $1.5 million settlement in 2013 jail beating case
Friday, February 22, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County paid more than $1.23 million in worker’s comp benefits in January
Friday, February 22, 2019
Chicago City Wire

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart: “This has been a bipartisan disaster.”
Thursday, February 21, 2019
WGN Chicago

EDITORIAL: Don’t bungle MWRD’s plan for an independent inspector general
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart Pivots To Podcasting To Fight Opioid Abuse
Thursday, February 21, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County board votes to permanently dismantle gang database
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

It's time to modernize the assessor's office
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Body found in vehicle at Cook County Forest Preserve near Hoffman Estates
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Daily Herald

Local legislators tout efforts to help those facing mental health issues
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Pioneer Press

It's time to modernize the assessor's office
Monday, February 18, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

EDITORIAL: We could have taken Gary Martin’s gun away
Monday, February 18, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Hours before Aurora mass shooting, former mayors met in Chicago to discuss strategies to reduce gun violence
Friday, February 15, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Illinois Supreme Court sets civil, criminal fee schedule
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Seniors: Are your Cook County property taxes delinquent? Your home could be at risk
Thursday, February 14, 2019
WLS Abc 7 Chicago

Editorial: Look out, taxpayers: When governments have more pensioners than employees
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Hundreds of accused criminals on electronic monitoring are missing
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
ABC Channel 7

Glenview adopts Cook County minimum wage and sick leave ordinances, effective July 1
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit over property tax assessments survives challenge
Monday, February 11, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Thursday, February 07, 2019
Special to

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.