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Stroger foes decry borrowing idea, unpaid bills

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's political foes today accused his administration of not paying $8.2 million in bills to gain support for a multi-million dollar bond issue.

In recent months, the Stroger administration has held payment on court settlements, attorneys fees and self-insurance claims, saying the county is short on cash.

"I think it is clearly a contrived situation to convince the board that we have to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to pay bills," said Commissioner Forrest Claypool (D-Chicago).

"We need to pay the bills," added Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R-Elmwood Park), who said there was $225 million in the county’s working cash fund.

Stroger spokesman James Ramos said that money is needed to pay other bills and suggested a proposed bond issue of $260 million would solve the county’s cash flow problem. But foes of Stroger, who is expected to propose a 2009 budget next week, allege some proceeds would be used to reward Stroger allies.

This year's $3 billion county spending plan led to a much decried one-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax increase and taking out a short-term loan of nearly $150 million backed by the resulting new revenue.



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