Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a public preliminary budget hearing on Wednesday night. Attended by President Preckwinkle, Commissioner Daley, and County department heads, the public hearing gave citizens the opportunity to voice questions, suggestions, and concerns regarding the proposed 2013 budget.
The hearing is part of the administration’s commitment towards collaborating closely with constituents on finding potential cost savings, streamlining process, and enhancing revenues. “We have made it a priority to create a budget process that is transparent and accountable to our constituents, and the input voiced here tonight will play a crucial role in the creation of the FY 2013 budget,” said President Preckwinkle.
Representatives of local organizations, and concerned individuals offered analysis and commentary on the budgetary and economic impact of a broad range of the County’s initiatives, including M/WBE participation, healthcare costs, juvenile mental health treatment, and the rollback of the sales tax. The Department of Budget and Management Services expects less of a shortfall this year – $267.5 million, down from the $487 million two years ago.
“The decreased revenue from reducing the sales tax is a major factor in the shortfall, as well as a decline in cigarette tax collections, a reduction in case filings at the Circuit County, and the elimination of inheritance tax collections. We will continue to work towards closing the budget gap through our City-County collaboration, updating and streamlining County processes, and removing administrative overlap,” said Budget Director Andrea Gibson.