Stroger's budget riddled with mistakes
Thursday, November 27, 2008
by Mark J. Konkol
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger's $2.9 billion budget
proposal -- which he refused to release publicly after making his
budget address on Tuesday -- was so rife with miscalculations that
critics say it's nearly impossible to get a clear picture of the
Opposition commissioners said the sloppy mistakes underline a "general incompetence" of the president's administration.
never seen a government that put out a budget so chock full of errors,
inaccuracy and misinformation. I don't even think they know their own
financial picture," Commissioner Forrest Claypool said. "It shows
remarkable ineptness and is symbolic of general mismanagement of county
government that taxpayers pay a heavy price for."
On Wednesday, Stroger's staff "demanded" some commissioners return
the error-riddled copies while corrected versions are being made.
The biggest problem with the budget document was in calculating the
difference between 2009 budget line items and the 2008 spending plan.
The 2009 proposed funding levels were subtracted from what individual
departments requested rather than last year's appropriation.
County chief financial officer Donna Dunnings said budget department
deputy Vincent Patterson -- a long-time employee with ties to Stroger's
8th Ward organization -- was responsible for the mix-up. Patterson has
been written up and could face suspension, she said.
"Every aspect of this budget is screwed up," Commissioner Mike
Quigley said. "This is the second time something like this has happened
in three years. But it's never been this bad."