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City, county say $33.4 million to be saved through cooperation

Saturday, June 02, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Kristen Mack

City Hall and Cook County government anticipate saving $33.4 million by combining efforts on elections, technology and other common interests, officials said Monday.

Starting this fall, 3,000 fewer election judges and polling place administrators will be hired to staff elections, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office. In presidential election years, the cooperation is expected to save $5.6 million.

When people call the county's 311 system, they'll get an automated answering machine instead of a person. The county eliminated its three 311 positions as a result, for a minor savings of $100,000.

By the end of August, the county will convert to the city's private information technology vendor for an anticipated savings of $5.1 million. Layoff notices have not gone out yet, and some people might be retrained for other IT vacancies.

Both the city and county are outsourcing custodial work, but the $4 million in expected savings is coming from the county side.

The city and county also merged three workforce development boards into one, saving $2.2 million, according to Emanuel's office. As a result, fewer administrators doing the same job are needed, reducing the number of positions from 78 to 60.

"It is essential to look after every cent of taxpayer money and to make sure we are finding efficiency throughout government," Emanuel said in a statement. "We will keep looking for savings and ways to improve government services."

Last year, the mayor and County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released a 100-page report replete with ways to save $66 million to $140 million by combining purchases, melding services and making public-employee unions compete against private businesses. If the savings materialize, the city and county will have achieved half of the lower end of their estimates.

Among the savings the city and county say they already have counted are $5.9 million from joint purchasing and $4.1 million by uniting efforts to collect unpaid taxes.

"We are energized by the numbers we've achieved," Preckwinkle said in a statement. "We've said from the start that this is just the beginning for the city-county collaboration, and working together as partners has allowed us to save taxpayers money, increase efficiency and promote quality of life in ways that hadn't been considered before."



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