Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  Cook County Hospital fills more outpatient prescriptions every day than are filled at 26 Walgreen's drug store combined.
   
     
     
     



Tax turnabout

Monday, November 30, 2009
Crain's Chicago Business
by Greg Hinz

After all the recent squabbling about whether Cook County does or does not need President Todd Stroger's full penny-on-the-dollar sales tax hike, you might think officials would pause before further cutting the county's income.

Times are tough, don'tcha know? Just about every government on the planet is scrounging for cash, and most are examining and re-examining proposals to spend money on special-purpose projects.


But this is Cook County; which leads to the story of how a south suburban hospital that recently was taken over by a for-profit investment group is seeking a special property tax break, a break that would cut its bill a nifty 60%, saving the investors $1 million a year or more.

At issue is a request by operators of MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, which took over the failing St. Francis Hospital & Health Center about a year-and-a-half ago from a religious group that threatened to shut it. Specifically, MetroSouth wants the county board to approve an ordinance that would apply to it and perhaps one other facility, the North Side's Weiss Memorial Hospital. The ordinance would tax the facility at 10% of its market value, rather than the usual 25%, saving owners a bundle.

MetroSouth has hired a couple of the best gunslingers in town — attorney Chuck Bernardini, a former county board member, and media consultant Guy Chipparoni — and they present what on its face is a decent case.

Mr. Bernardini says that when the private group took over St. Francis, it told local officials that it would need "some government help" to be viable over the long term and received promises of support from Blue Island and other officials. He points out that the 1,300-employee facility recently had to lay off 100 workers, and, even with the proposed tax cut, still would be paying $900,000 to $1.8 million a year in property taxes — something that St. Francis, a tax-exempt non-profit facility, did not have to do.

MetroSouth CEO Eugene Beckmann makes similar points.

The facility's New York-based owners have invested $10 million in upgrades in an area of the county that is starved for jobs and investment capital, he says, and would like to do more. But "we need a little help," he argues. "Right now, the reality in this community is that there are other hospitals which pay no taxes. We will pay taxes. The only question is how much."

Fair enough. But it's worth noting that the two commissioners who are sponsoring the tax-break plan, Deborah Sims and Joan Patricia Murphy, were among Mr. Stroger's staunchest allies in backing his argument that the county needs every bit of income it can get from the sales tax and can't afford to make any reduction, even if that tax clobbered a lot of small stores. But now that an institution located in their part of the world needs some money, the commissioners suddenly are less interested in maximizing the county's take.

It's also worth noting that special-purpose laws, which help one individual or company, usually make for bad public policy — particularly when well-connected insiders have been hired to secure passage of such a law.

The county board at the moment appears pretty divided on this proposal.

Suburban Republican Tony Peraica says he'll back the proposal in what for him is "a close call." City Democrat Bridget Gainer says she's not swayed and wants time to study the issue. A third member in a key position, Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, says the matter won't be on the agenda for his Dec. 1 meeting because it needs more review.

That is the way it should be. One suggestion to Chairman Daley: Since MetroSouth is kind of pleading poverty (Dr. Beckmann says the facility now is about breaking even), let them bring in their books and tax returns and prove the case.

Saving a good hospital for south Cook County is a worthy goal. So is making sure that county taxpayers don't get a traditional Chicago fleecing in the process.



Recent Headlines

Cook County board to vote on new budget today
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
WGN Channel 9

Preckwinkle agrees to fewer Cook County job cuts; hundreds of layoffs still in works
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Teamsters Local 700 Files for Temporary Restraining Order Against Cook County Merit Board
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Special to suffredin.org

How Cook County finally got a new budget
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business

ONTIVEROS: I think I miss that soda pop tax
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Budget Cuts Expected For Cook County Public Guardian’s Office
Monday, November 20, 2017
CBS Chicago

Ex-Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says he's running again
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

More than 300 Cook County employees will lose jobs to balance budget
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail Population Down 15 Percent After Bond Reforms
Monday, November 20, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Stroger vs. Preckwinkle: Hide your wallets.
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

After momentous week, prosecutor Kim Foxx says 'we have to right wrongs'
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Police union president slams Foxx, prosecutors after exonerations
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

MIHALOPOULOS: Will pop-tax anger unseat Preckwinkle, or fizzle out?
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

After Warning of 'Painful Cuts,' Preckwinkle to Unveil 2018 Budget Amendment
Friday, November 17, 2017
NBC Chicago

Watchdog: Quit stalling on Cook County justice system data
Friday, November 17, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business

The Week in Review: Record Wave of Exonerations Tied to Rogue Cop
Friday, November 17, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Preckwinkle, some commissioners say enough votes for amended budget
Friday, November 17, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Nothing Pleasant About Hundreds Of Layoffs
Friday, November 17, 2017
CBS Chicago

Cook County commissioners get behind Preckwinkle's budget cuts
Friday, November 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Chuy Garcia Sole Cook County Commissioner Iffy on Budget
Friday, November 17, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

all news items

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