Preckwinkle open to privatizing Cook County assets

July 29, 2011

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says she's open to privatizing some county services to help solve a major budget shortfall.

Preckwinkle said the county is facing a $116 million budget shortfall this fiscal year and a $300 million deficit next year.

"The truth is, look, we did a lot of the easy stuff in the last budget cycle. Picked a lot of the low-hanging fruit, if you want to use a cliché," Preckwinkle said. Thursday. "It gets harder and harder once you've done the easy things to make the cuts you have to make."

At a news conference, Preckwinkle was asked if she would be open to privatizing county assets to get some quick cash.

"You know, I think pretty much everything is on the table," she said.

Preckwinkle said she wants to avoid layoffs. She ordered all county departments to immediately cut five percent.

Preckwinkle blamed the bulk of the projected deficits on health care costs. She's controversially been trying to get clearance to close a south suburban hospital, which she says is costing the county $2 million dollars each month it stays open that's not budgeted.