President Preckwinkle pushes for smart management and operational efficiencies; backs $7 million in efficiency savings

Preparing for potentially harmful cuts from the state and proactively planning for a challenging budget year, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is requesting all Cook County offices and agencies identify at least $7 million in cost saving measures.

“By identifying saving measures now, we will be better prepared for the future,” President Preckwinkle said. “$7 million is a strong start toward finding new ways to save the County money and it’s just the beginning. Finding smart savings early in the budget cycle will allow us to implement them in time to have a positive impact on this fiscal year and next fiscal year.”

Following the passage of the fiscal year 2015 budget last November, President Preckwinkle instructed her budget office to immediately begin a comprehensive search for additional ways to increase savings and productivity while avoiding cuts to services. As part of the administration’s savings mandate, Budget Director Andrea Gibson is planning to institute a 1% holdback on personnel in the General Fund, which is expected to save an estimated $6 million by moderating hiring. The holdback is under the discretion of the budget director and serves as a savings mechanism by retaining, or holding back, dollars allocated to County departments in the budget. Gibson noted that this is not a hiring freeze but will delay some hiring.

Additionally, a 2% increase in the holdback for non-personnel accounts will increase County savings by an additional $1 million. These serve as cautionary measures to moderate hiring and spending as additional months of revenue are received and monitored. Although the most recent revenue report shows the County on track with its revenue projections through January, the holdback will serve as a safeguard for an unanticipated revenue underperformance. These new savings can also help mitigate a possible damaging cut of $6.3 million in income tax revenue, along with other cuts to Medicaid and related areas that will impact the County budget that are being debated in Springfield.

In addition to the reductions in personnel and non-personnel costs across the board, the County is pursuing various targeted vendor savings and reviewing use of cell phones, printers, and vehicles, to further decrease expenses.

“President Preckwinkle has given us a clear directive to leave no stone unturned to find savings,” Gibson said. “We have implemented numerous budget best practices and will continue striving to streamline government, reduce costs and do more with less.”