Responses to Submitted Budget Questions

The Department of Budget and Management Services strives to be accessible, transparent and responsive to all residents . As part of the Cook County Preliminary Forecast, residents were provided the opportunity to submit budget questions directly to the budget department. Below are the full questions as received via an online form and the corresponding responses.

What revenue proposals are under consideration for the November budget that will work to make Cook County more equitable and inclusive for everyone, particularly Black and Brown communities? What proposals are supported by President Preckwinkle that will redirect public funds to address housing, mental health, technology deficits, and other disparities? Keep up the great work!

Cook County is in the very preliminary stages of making determinations related to next year’s budget. While we are just taking the initial steps to develop an equitable and inclusive budget, please know that our work will be done through an equity lens that recognizes the impact of systemic racism on the many topics noted in your thoughtful question.

You may also be interested to know that we recently put together a consistent, thorough and equitable process to distribute millions of dollars in CARES Act money to underlying municipalities for direct coronavirus-related costs like PPE purchases. COVID-19 is hitting Black and Brown communities the hardest which is why we set out to lead the way on distributing relief funding equitably. This plan is distribution $51 million to almost 130 municipalities.

In partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, allocations to each municipality were determined through an equitable lens, with factors that included, but that were not limited to, immediate needs of the municipality to respond to the pandemic, municipal population, municipal median income and municipal public health statistics. It is important to note that each municipality must apply for this funding allocation and such allocation will be contingent on eligible cost reimbursement.

President Preckwinkle I would like to know if Cook County Employees that have 26 years of service or more would be able to get a buyout if they are 58 years old or older? Would it be feasible for Cook County to offer the buyout and will it generate better revenue for our Cook County residents?  

Cook County is not exploring buyouts as a budget savings mechanism. A buyout would not generate better revenue for Cook County. It would reduce operational costs while potentially increasing the County’s pension obligations.

Will the County defund Sheriff Police? How many layoffs? How many furlough days?

We are looking for savings in all our departments, bureaus and separately elected offices. Everyone is going to have to take hits and that includes the Sheriff. We are aware that some offices are considering furloughs and have to work through their bargaining units to finalize them, but have not yet confirmed their full plan to our Budget Office. We expect those decisions to be finalized by the end of August.

With that said, Cook County is divesting in the old criminal justice system and investing in communities. Cook County will continue to implement reforms within the criminal justice system, invest in community-based services, and work with public safety stakeholders to provide the resources necessary to reduce violence.

To create a more equitable and fairer justice system for all residents, Cook County will continue to implement sustainable reforms within the criminal justice system, invest in community-based services and work with public safety stakeholders to provide the resources necessary to reduce violence.

Through our Justice Advisory Council, Cook County has made investments of $23 million in wrap-around services for people involved in the criminal justice system through community-based grants in the areas of violence prevention, recidivism reduction, and restorative justice, as well as Opportunity Works and other programming focused on employment opportunities for young adults.

There is a Cook County Department of Revenue Tobacco Tax Ordinance. Little Cigars under Sec. 74-433 Tax imposed; cigarettes, Other tobacco rates. This tax was effective 2016 at little cigars:$0.05 per unit on cigar. Mayor Rahm  Emanuel challenged the previous ruling of circuit court, which was overruled by the Illinois Appellate. The tobacco group sued on the grounds that state law prohibited new taxes on other  tobacco. This is a new modern economy and Cook County I am hoping will find a way to respond to this revenue since  Cannabis is legal and there is an increase in revenue growth. These little cigars are tools used to smoke Cannabis. The Ordinance states that Taxes can't be increased on other tobacco relative to 1993, according to the state of Illinois. This population won't be offended, and Honorable President Preckwinkle said everything is on the table. Thanks Horace,

The challenge against the taxing of other tobacco products mentioned in your question involved the City of Chicago’s tax, which was implemented well after their tax on cigarettes. The court ruling on that case does not impact the County’s tax on other tobacco products, specifically little cigar. Accordingly, the County’s tobacco tax rate of .05 has not changed and remains in effect.

We don’t currently project little cigar sales to increase significantly enough to impact current revenue estimates. Even if sales increase in conjunction with the legalization of cannabis, an analysis of filed returns in 2019 showed that segment was less than 1% of OTP revenue, so sales would have to increase immensely to have any real impact.