Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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 Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Gregory Pratt

Cook County is facing an $82 million deficit next fiscal year, setting the stage for what will be a “difficult and challenging” budget season, board President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday.

County officials are planning to offset the budget hole by cutting spending without introducing new fees or taxes, a sharp contrast to last year’s heated controversy over the sweetened beverage tax, which was later overturned. Referencing that ill-fated move, in which county commissioners approved what became known as the “pop tax” before repealing it amid public furor, Preckwinkle said the county decided to forgo $200 million a year in revenue. 

That decision affected not only last year’s budget but subsequent years’ spending, Preckwinkle said. “We have our work cut out for us,” Preckwinkle said. Commissioner John Daley, the Finance Committee chairman, released a statement echoing Preckwinkle’s sentiments. “Closing the $82 million budget gap will be a challenging task,” Daley said. “In anticipation of this gap, the Finance Committee is being proactive and scheduling midyear budget hearings in July to meet with elected officials and department heads to discuss possibilities for cost reductions across county government.” 

In November 2016, Preckwinkle won approval for a penny-an-ounce tax on sugar- and artificially sweetened beverages. Retailers started charging the tax in August 2017, after it was delayed by a court challenge from store owners.  

Under pressure from a public backlash fueled by the beverage industry’s multimillion-dollar campaign against the tax, the board voted last October to repeal it. 

That left Preckwinkle and commissioners struggling to plug a $200.6 million budget hole. The current $5.2 billion budget, which expires Nov. 30, is expected to end with a $600,000 surplus, Preckwinkle’s office said. 

The final budget for fiscal year 2019 is also expected to end up around $5.2 billion, officials said. Commissioner Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, cited that history and said the projected budget deficit for the fiscal year that starts Dec. 1, “is nothing compared to what we went through in (the 2018 budget).” “If we roll up our sleeves and scour the budget with a scalpel and not take a hatchet to the budget, I believe we’ll be able to balance the budget without decimating public health, public safety or our workforce,” Boykin said. 

 Preckwinkle’s office noted the projected budget gap for next year’s budget is the lowest since 2011. Commissioner Bridget Gainer, D-Chicago, said she’s buoyed by the low budget gap. But, she said, this year’s budget will be more challenging because many savings — such as cutting vacant positions — already have been realized. “It’s too early to tell whether or not that number can be closed without (raising) revenue,” Gainer said. 

Under Preckwinkle’s leadership, officials said Cook County has reduced its full-time employees by 13 percent since 2010. In 2010, the county had 25,613 full-time equivalent jobs but that number is down to the low 22,000s, officials said. The county has eliminated its projected deficits from nearly $500 million in 2011 to approximately $82 million next year. Driven by “rising personnel costs” and higher employee health benefit costs “rising at the rate of medical inflation,” total expenditures in the county’s general fund are expected to increase by $63 million in the next fiscal year, officials said. 

Corresponding revenues are only expected to increase by $10.5 million. The Cook County Health and Hospitals System is expected to have an approximately $30 million budget shortfall next fiscal year, officials said. Since she took office, Preckwinkle noted, the county also has cut its appropriation to the Cook County Health and Hospitals System by $400 million. 

Last year, Preckwinkle’s office said, the county eliminated more than 1,000 budgeted but vacant positions and had about 200 layoffs. As the county’s budget season kicks off, officials said, Preckwinkle has directed budget workers to seek consolidation of redundant programs, services and real estate, promote contract savings, delay hiring and establish strategies to reduce overtime. The budget forecast’s release is an early step in the process. 

There will be a public hearing on the preliminary forecast July 12. From July 23 through July 25, there will be midyear budget hearings. In August and September, county officials will finalize budget requests with departments, and in October, Preckwinkle will make her executive budget recommendation. Public hearings and final votes are scheduled for October and November, officials said. Twitter @royalpratt

Recent Headlines

Northbrook will revisit Cook County minimum wage ordinance in May
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suffredin: County to seek 'safeguards' for golf course road
Friday, November 16, 2018
Evanston NOW

She's been waiting 15 months for her rape kit to be processed. A new proposal to track evidence aims to change that.
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle to unveil policy roadmap for Cook County for next five years
Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

U.S. appeals judges: Go fight over lawsuits with Dorothy Brown in state court
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

COMMENTARY: Here's how the Shakman case curbed Cook County patronage
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Appeals court backs Dorothy Brown in lawsuit over public access to electronic records, says judge overstepped authority
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What’s Next As Voters Overwhelmingly Support Higher Minimum Wage, Paid Sick Time
Monday, November 12, 2018
Journal and Topics Online

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018

The Abandoned WWI Monument One Chicago Man Is Determined To Save
Friday, November 02, 2018
Chicago Patch

Cook County freed from federal oversight
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

First-of-its-kind trauma recovery center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018

Northbrook opts in to Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, more uncertainty for employers, lawyer says
Monday, October 29, 2018
Cook County Record

First-of-its-kind Advocate Trauma Recovery Center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
WLS Channel 7

Cook County sheriff, CVS team up on safe prescription painkiller disposal
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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