Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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:  

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


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

  The Cook County Forest Preserve District maintains over 70 miles of bicycle trails.

Making a list: what Cook County can give residents

Monday, December 22, 2003
Crain's Chicago Business
by Laurence Msall


Crain's Chicago Business

Anyone who has ever attempted to unwind a string of tangled holiday lights can appreciate the difficulty of sorting out the budgets of Cook County and its Forest Preserve District.

As county officials contemplate celebrating the new year with a tax increase, they would be wise to remember that it is the thought that counts, not the increase.

The Civic Federation and other business groups have come up with as many ways to improve county government as there are lights on the tree in Daley Plaza. Implementing these ideas would be the best gift for county residents, and it wouldn't require tax increases, layoffs or significant service cuts.
Natural revenue growth from existing taxes and fees is expected to top $60 million next year. Combine that with $61 million saved by eliminating vacancies and regularly unspent appropriations, and you've more than covered the county's reported $86-million deficit.

Cook County should follow the lead of Mayor Richard Daley in balancing the budget. The city has shrunk its workforce 6% over the last five years through privatization and management improvements.

The county must make government leaner. Balancing the deficit with tax hikes will be counterproductive, particularly as local businesses struggle to emerge from a weakened economy. At a time when the private sector is reducing all costs, including personnel, the public sector must apply the same discipline.

While management efficiencies and natural revenue growth can close the 2004 budget gap, the county must begin to adopt long-term solutions. There is no shortage of ideas from civic organizations and the county's own 2001 County Operations Review Team report, but most of these recommendations have yet to be acted upon. Some key ideas that have been proposed by the Civic Federation over the years include:

• Eliminate automatic step increases for Cook County employees, which could save as much as $26 million annually.

• Dissolve the Suburban Cook County Tuberculosis Sanitarium District and transfer its assets to the county, which could immediately yield at least $9.6 million.

• Jointly purchase health insurance with other major local governments, which could save the county as much as $22.5 million.

Once the county budget is balanced, the next item on residents' wish list is forest preserve reform.

The hurried forest preserve budget process this year is further evidence of the need to sever the legal bond between the Cook County Board of Commissioners and the Cook County Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners. Currently, the same commissioners serve on both boards and review both budgets at the same time.

Cook County would be well- served to follow the lead of DuPage County, which formally separated the boards of its county government and forest preserves this year. One immediate positive result of that split was a rationalization of the DuPage Forest Preserve land acquisition policy; another is the ability of each board to focus on its mission without the distractions of the other government.

Laurence Msall is president of the Civic Federation, a non-partisan government and tax research group supported by Chicago's leading business and service firms.

Recent Headlines

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Special to

Cook County Assessor’s Office Publicly Releases Residential Assessment Code and Models
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Special to

EDITORIAL: Long in the MWRD pipeline, IG plan needs a yes vote
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Health Cuts Ribbon on Outpatient Center in Arlington Heights
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Celebrate Earth Day with the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Special to

Homeowners in Chicago have just a few weeks to get current on their 2017 property taxes - or risk losing their homes. WBEZ’s Odette Yousef reports.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
WBEZ Chiacgo Public Radio

Editorial: The Foxx-Smollett questions for Inspector General Blanchard
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County pet owners warned of spring coyote dangers
Monday, April 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County inspector general to review prosecutors' handling of Jussie Smollett case
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Foxx requests Cook County IG investigation into handling of Jussie Smollett case
Friday, April 12, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A challenge to one of Chicago's biggest draws for companies
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

$3.85 million granted in lawsuit against ex-Cook County forest preserve worker charged in fatal on-the-job crash
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

EDITORIAL: Splitting up the region’s sanitation board is an idea that stinks
Monday, April 08, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawmakers Look To Keep 10-Year-Olds Out Of Jail
Thursday, April 04, 2019

Property Tax Workshops Help Homeowners Appeal Assessments
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Large crowds of Evanston residents turn out to appeal property tax assessments
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Family of slain cabbie accuses Cook County state's attorney's office of dodging FOIA request
Monday, April 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Property Tax Appeal Seminar Set For New Trier Township Residents
Monday, April 01, 2019
Journal and Topics Online

all news items

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