County board passes Stroger budget
Monday, February 23, 2009
by Wendell Hutson
County board passes Stroger budget by Wendell Hutson
What started off as an uphill battle ended last week with a victory for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger who successfully had his 2009 budget approved before the Feb. 28 deadline.
While the $3 billion budget will reduce about 600 full-time positions, it does not include fee or tax increases.
“I proposed a budget that reflects the needs of all of our agencies and elected officials, and made myself as well as my finance staff available to work with commissioners to create a final document that a majority of this board could support,” said Stroger. “I urged commissioners to work collaboratively, brainstorm and come up with a budget that preserves vital services for our residents.”
After commissioners initially rejected proposals for across-the-board cuts of up to six percent, eventually they agreed to cut non-health areas by 4 percent, freeing up $18.5 million, with no cuts for most departments. The commissioners also agreed to cut two percent from the health system’s budget, giving it $14.2 million less than the original $46 million increase the board approved late last year.
Additionally, the county board approved a Stroger proposal to create an administrative hearing unit that would reportedly ease the circuit court’s case load and speed up disposition of administrative issues, including violations of environmental and revenue rules and regulations.
Additionally, the county is looking forward to a $20 million slice of the federal stimulus pie. redistributed.