Preckwinkle warns of budget cuts
Friday, November 19, 2010
by Hal Dardick
Cook County Board President-elect Toni Preckwinkle
on Thursday warned top county officials that they will need to make
major spending cuts next year to help the county close a vast budget
The estimated revenue shortfall tops $480 million because of
the partial rollback of the controversial county sales-tax increase, the
anticipated costs of new contracts for employees, and higher debt
payments, she said. This week's $55.3 million settlement of a lawsuit
related to jail strip searches also contributed, she added.
said she had a lunch meeting with Sheriff Tom Dart, Cook County Circuit
Clerk Dorothy Brown and other countywide elected officials "to talk
about how desperate our situation is and how we need their help and
The meeting was "somber," said Cook County Clerk David Orr. "Making these types of additional cuts is going to be painful."
Patterson, Dart's spokesman, noted the sheriff is under court order to
provide certain levels of staffing at the county's massive jail, but
said Dart would work with Preckwinkle.Preckwinkle, who takes office
early next month, said she doesn't expect to have a budget in place much
before the deadline of Feb. 28 — already three months into the fiscal
She has promised to eventually eliminate what remains of the sales-tax increase approved by the board at current President Todd Stroger's
urging. Stroger, who lost to Preckwinkle in the Democratic primary, was
criticized for not cutting enough fat from the county budget.
said she's focused on cuts and efficiencies. "Other governments across
the country have done this; it's not impossible," she said.
pledged to consolidate departments under her control and cut
"unnecessary positions," citing instances where supervisors oversee just
one or two employees. She also said combining purchasing and other
county functions could save more than $150 million.
to be talking to the labor unions about the contribution that they can
make to helping us deal with the terrible problems we've got," she