Budget crafted through collaborative effort between President and Commissioners
The Cook County Board of Commissioners today approved a balanced $5.2 billion FY18 budget through a package of amendments presented by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
The 17-0 bipartisan vote approving the budget follows a month of extensive departmental hearings, commissioner questions and public meetings aimed at closing a more than $200.6 million gap that followed a vote last month repealing the Sweetened Beverage Tax.
“Through shared sacrifice and cooperation we were able to develop and pass a balanced budget,” President Preckwinkle said. “We have had to make exceedingly difficult but necessary choices, but we have met our fiscal obligation to the people of Cook County. While at the same time protecting key public health and public safety services.
“I remain committed to building on the progress we have made over the past seven years of passing balanced budgets and working to secure the County’s financial future.”
The $200.6 million budget gap is being closed primarily via expenditure reductions, including 321 layoffs and more than 1,000 vacancy closures. Also factored into closing the budget gap are a combination of expected increases in Disproportionate Share Hospital payments for the County’s Health Fund, additional Tax Increment Financing surplus revenue, heightened enforcement of existing home rule taxes such as parking and gasoline, and organic growth in miscellaneous revenues and fees.
Additionally, adjustments from special purpose funds, grant and capital expenditures in a series of additional amendments presented today combined to solve for the $200.6 million shortfall.
Among the steps taken to close the gap were:
- A collection of efficiency measures eliminating equipment purchases from general fund revenues, holding the line on salary increases, and approved furlough days in the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
- More than 1,000 vacancy eliminations for offices and departments across the County. The amendment contains 763 vacancy eliminations on top of 254 eliminations advanced in the President’s original budget recommendation.
- 321 layoffs, the result of a number of initiatives such as consolidating services, right-sizing management-to-staff ratios, merging HR functions, closing a branch court and Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) housing unit, and additional divisions at the County Jail as a result of sustained population reduction at both the Jail and JTDC.
“We sought efficiencies wherever we could while at the same time protecting our vital services,” Preckwinkle said. “But unfortunately, we could not reach the needed savings without having to lay off some people. I deeply regret having to do so but the fiscal realities we face left us with no choice.”
She added, “I applaud the commissioners for their collaboration and for asking the tough questions of separately elected officials, bureau chiefs and department heads. As a result of this process, I believe we all have a better understanding of where our money comes from and where it goes – how we raise it and how we spend it – that will ensure we continue to provide our residents with the services they expect and are entitled to.”
All budget information has been posted to the Cook County budget website, allowing the public to review documents. To view the amendments and additional budget information visit www.cookcountyil.gov/Budget.