In March 2011, County President Toni Preckwinkle and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked a committee of civic leaders to explore collaboration opportunities for Cook County and the City of Chicago. The Joint Committee on City-County Collaboration was tasked with identifying ways the City of Chicago and Cook County could reduce costs, streamline services, and improve residents’ interactions with the City and County. In June 2011, the Committee issued a report outlining 19 areas where the City and County should work together. The Committee projected potential savings in the range of $66 million – $140 million by 2014.
Since June, City-County working groups have formed for each of the 19 collaboration areas and one additional area not outlined in the original report: Anti-Violence and Community Stabilization Strategies. Teams have met regularly to exchange ideas and best practices and to map out implementation plans. In addition, key staff from both the County President and Chicago Mayor’s offices have met on a bi-weekly basis to assess the overall progress of collaboration and to keep the process moving forward.
After three months of collaboration efforts, this committee has reached three conclusions:
Substantial effort and planning have gone into collaboration, resulting in a preliminary estimate of $11 million in projected savings for 2012. The full range of savings estimated by the committee will take years to realize, however, the committee is eager to see savings in the $66 million - $140 million range and will actively monitor the efforts of both governments in pursuit of this goal.
While dollar savings is an important measure of success, improved services are also a key measure. The City and County have and will continue to devote considerable attention to service improvements throughout the collaboration process.
Collaboration begets collaboration. As teams work together on the 19 prescribed initiatives, further opportunities to collaborate will be discovered. One example is the emergence of a twentieth collaboration area: Anti-Violence Strategies and Community Stabilization.
The Joint Committee's first quarterly report on City-County Collaboration was presented at the October 4th Cook County Board meeting.