Toni Preckwinkle says county layoffs this year are ‘inevitable’
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
by Lisa Donovan
Cook County Board President Toni
Preckwinkle said yet another round of layoffs are on the horizon as she
and her team work to close a budget gap that could exceed $300 million.
“As there were layoffs last year, I
expect that … it will be inevitable there will be layoffs this year,”
Preckwinkle told reporters after the County Board meeting Wednesday.
On Thursday, she’ll offer a look at the
projected budget hole as county government heads in to budget season;
the fiscal year ends Nov. 30.
In May, Preckwinkle told the Sun-Times
the projected shortfall ranged between $250 million and $300 million but
wouldn’t say how much it would be. A source said it is above $300
million but below this year’s $487 million shortfall that saw roughly
500 layoffs and a series of unpaid days off for those who remained on
Preckwinkle has said in recent months
that revenue shortfalls in the county health-care system and a projected
loss of revenues tied to partial rollback of the county’s sales tax in
January 2012 are contributing to the forecasted budget crunch.
Preckwinkle chuckled when asked whether
the County Board might reconsider the sales tax rollback. She campaigned
– and won – by vowing to erase what’s left of an unpopular
penny-on-the-dollar sales tax hike championed by predecessor Todd
“No one has suggested that nor will we
propose that,” said Preckwinkle, who won unanimous support for a gradual
rollback of the hike as part of the 2011 budget package.
Preckwinkle says she’s meeting with labor leaders to figure out a way to stem the layoffs.
In a recent interview, Preckwinkle said
the 10 unpaid days off handed to most county workers this year will be
on the table in 2012 and “for the foreseeable future.”