After meeting with County Commissioners, municipal leaders, township officials, and hearing from constituents throughout Cook County, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced the formation of a 13-member taskforce tasked with examining costs and services provided to unincorporated Cook County and ending the unincorporated tax subsidy. This taskforce will evaluate opportunities to share costs in a fairer fashion for both unincorporated and incorporated residents and to improve service delivery to residents of unincorporated areas. The President is calling for this task force to recommend a plan for addressing this issue by March 1, 2012.
“Residents throughout the County have reached out to both me and their Commissioners to let us know that the current way services are provided to unincorporated areas is either inequitable or inefficient,” said President Preckwinkle. “We believe that there are different potential opportunities out there for each unincorporated area, and this group will work with residents and civic leaders to formulate recommendations tailored to each area.”
The taskforce is comprised of a diverse group of non-profit, civic and community leaders from throughout the County will report back in 120 days on its recommendations for how to approach services in Unincorporated Cook County. The group will be supported by the following leading civic organizations: Civic Federation, Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC), Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) and the Metropolitan Mayors’ Caucus.
The President’s administration will offset the implementation of Special Service Areas (SSA) in the FY2012 Budget by allocating an additional $5 million from the Motor Fuel Tax Bonds to better reflect the timing of debt service payments. Preckwinkle maintains that SSAs can be part of the solution to end the subsidy for police services for only 2% of the County’s population that live in unincorporated Cook paid for by the remaining 98% of residents. She urged members of the taskforce to conduct their study with an open mind that focuses on improving services at a lower cost to taxpayers.
Joining President Preckwinkle at a news conference to announce the committee Cook County Commissioner Tim Schneider (R-15th) who praised the President’s desire to put forth a solution that will ensure fiscal responsibility and reflects what’s best for Cook County residents.
“I believe a proposal as dramatic as this one clearly needs to be planned out,” Schneider said. “To the administration’s credit, we are doing just that. The President has asked me to serve on this task force, and I am proud to do so on behalf of my constituents. I look forward to working with the rest of this committee to explore every possible solution to address cost issues and improve services for my constituents.”
Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims (D-5th), also a member of the task force, echoed President Preckwinkle’s sentiments that improving services to all of Cook County residents is critical to the long-term stability of the region.
“I attended a meeting with President Preckwinkle last week and I am pleased that she has asked me to be a part of the task force that will be charged with putting a plan together around how to best deliver services to unincorporated residents,” Sims said. “We must continue to provide services in a way that is comprehensive, but also cost effective.”
David Bennett, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, stressed President Preckwinkle’s efforts to engage municipalities to find a sustainable solution to this issue.
“Every municipality is unique and would be affected differently by this proposal and I commend President Preckwinkle’s efforts to do this the right way,” Bennett said. “I can’t stress enough the level of collaboration and consultation that has rarely been seen from a County Board President.”
Also joining President Preckwinkle at the news conference was Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski (D-16th). He is President of the West Central Municipal Conference.
The complete list of the taskforce is:
- Commissioner Tim Schneider
- Commissioner Deborah Sims
- Henderson Yarborough, Mayor of Maywood
- Carol Teschky, Maine Township Supervisor
- Laurence Msall, President, Civic Federation
- Dave Bennett, Executive Director, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus
- Randy Blankenhorn, Executive Director, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP)
- King Harris, Chair, Board of Governors of Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)
- Barry Nekritz
- Woods Bowman
- Scott Saef
- Adrienne Archia
*The taskforce will also include a representative from the Cook County Sheriff’s office to be identified at a later date