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Toni Preckwinkle, Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia agree on plan for county revenue forecasting commission

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune
by Gregory Pratt


Toni Preckwinkle, Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia agree on plan for county revenue forecasting commission

Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Board President Toni Preckwinkle have reached a compromise on an independent commission that would forecast Cook County revenue in advance of future budgets.

Preckwinkle and Garcia, her floor leader who is running for Congress, had been in conflict over the proposal for months. With Garcia’s time on the board expiring, he kept working to get the votes to pass the measure through the County Board but this week announced a compromise with Preckwinkle.

The compromise measure will have the county’s chief financial officer provide revenue estimates and assumptions for review to three independent members of the commission made up of two economics experts and one public finance expert, Preckwinkle said.

The review will coincide with the start of the county’s annual budget process, she said. The chief financial officer will be required to share quarterly updates on revenue projections.

The plan will cost about $100,000 per year, a county spokesman said. Earlier estimates put the commission at $600,000.

READ MORE: Higher health care costs fuel $700M in new spending under Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s $5.9B budget plan »

“Neither side is totally happy with the outcome,” Garcia said, “which could be an indication of a real compromise.”

He said he hopes that in the future the commission “is something that can be built on as the board makes difficult revenue choices.” He said it’s expected to be in place by December.

“As we’re experiencing at the health and hospital system, the complexity of finances really should be a wake-up call for the board to acquire more tools and grow its capacity to engage in both the generation of revenues as well as the expenditure of revenues that come in,” Garcia said.

Preckwinkle praised her staff while making the announcement. She said the considered the agreement “a reasonable compromise.”

“I want to be clear that our Bureau of Finance’s recent record of financial forecasting has been excellent. In fact in the past three years, (the) bureau’s projections versus actual collections of home rule taxes have been within 2 percent in each year,” she said.

Preckwinkle is running for mayor of Chicago and is chairwoman of the Cook County Democratic Party. Garcia was considering a run for mayor but ultimately decided against it because he’s already on the Nov. 6 ballot for the U.S. House of Representatives.


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