Announces commitment to no new revenue from taxpayers
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today released the preliminary forecast for the County’s Fiscal Year 2020 showing a historically small projected gap of $18.7 million.
This forecast represents the lowest preliminary gap total since President Preckwinkle took office and an almost 96 percent decrease from the $487 million encountered in her first year in office. Additionally, Cook County is on track to provide supplemental pension payments of more than $1.3 billion while increasing infrastructure funding by the end of this fiscal year.
“We have come a long way since I walked in the door to a gap of nearly $500 million,” Preckwinkle said. “This marks the smallest gap we have ever experienced and is a true testament to our responsible and reasonable budgeting.”
The preliminary forecast report presents a mid-year projection of year-end revenues and expenses for Fiscal Year 2019 and an initial forecast for Fiscal Year 2020 for the General Fund and Health Enterprise Fund, the County’s two major operating funds.
Beginning today, residents can visit the County’s new preliminary forecast website hosted on our Open Data portal, or visit www.cookcountyil.gov/Budget to access more information and view previous budgets.
“The manageable size of this preliminary gap and year-end projection means we will not be asking residents for new revenue,” Preckwinkle said.
Preckwinkle announced a projected operating shortfall for FY2020 driven primarily by increased personnel costs. FY2020 General Fund expenditures are projected to increase by $16.6 million. The Board of Commissioners approval of a cost of living increase contributes largely to the overall increase of 3% in personnel expenditures. Personnel cost increases have a $38.2 million impact on the upcoming budget.
Another key component of the personnel related expense is $11.7 million in increased health benefit costs which are rising at a rate above medical inflation. A $4.7 million increase in expected revenue leaves the total gap associated with the General Fund at $11.9 million. A FY2019 surplus of $14.9 million is forecast due to gains in the home rule tax collections and lower than anticipated salary and wages expenses across the County.
“The forecast released today will help direct the process and crafting of a balanced and responsible budget,” Preckwinkle said. “We will work with commissioners and the separately elected officials in the coming months to examine areas where we can increase efficiencies, reduce costs and close this budget gap in a prudent and responsible manner like we have done each previous year.”
Preckwinkle added the County will continue to review recently passed legislative actions, and others, to determine the full impact on FY2020 and future County budgets.
Cook County Health is experiencing a budget gap of $103M, which represents less than 3% of the health system’s operating budget, largely due to lower than expected Medicaid enrollment attributed to a backlog in state Medicaid application processing from the previous state administration and an uptick in uninsured patients seeking care from the system.
More than 100,000 individuals across Illinois have lost coverage since October 2018, 65,000 in Cook County alone. CountyCare, the health system’s Medicaid managed care plan has seen a proportionate decrease in membership but has held its market position as the largest Medicaid managed care plan in Cook County with 31% of the market share. As the state catches up with application processing, CountyCare anticipates proportional growth but has developed a corrective action plan to address the shortfall.
The FY2020 outlook for the Health Enterprise Fund includes a much smaller $6.8 million shortfall. This projection also assumes a flat operating tax allocation from the County for the Health System of $102 million.
A public hearing on the preliminary forecast will take place at 6 p.m. on July 9 in the Cook County Board Room on the 5th floor of 118 N. Clark St.
Residents will have an opportunity to provide testimony and engage directly with the President’s Office and CCH on their budget priorities. The President’s Office will live-stream the public hearing and residents can use social media to ask questions. For more information regarding the budget please visit: www.cookcountyil.gov/Budget.