President Preckwinkle talks about the difficult decisions behind 2012 county budget proposals
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle revealed the 2012 county budget Tuesday. She said structural changes including layoffs would help close the $315 million shortfall. Preckwinkle projects to lay off about 1,000 people from across county government, including some positions within the healthcare system. About 500 vacancies will remain unfilled.
“I wish we could close the gap without laying people off, this is not possible,” Preckwinkle told Eight Forty-Eight’s Alison Cuddy.
The Board President is hopeful the union will re-consider taking the seven unpaid holidays and shutdown days which would save about 450 jobs.
To help determine where to cut Preckwinkle said her office began a performance management initiative. “We put together people in functional areas like healthcare, public safety, economic development, finance and administration, and property and taxation. Those are basic things the county does.”
The information collected from those officials helped identify who could be laid off with minimal damage to the county’s ability to provide services to residents.
Another point of interest in Preckwinkle’s attempt to balance the budget is taxes. She said she’s committed to rolling back the sales tax, saying it will be reduced by a quarter of one percent at the end of 2011. An additional quarter will be shaved off at the end of 2012. There will also be an increase in title properties taxes such as cars, yachts and trailers. She said the $25 million raised from this tax will go into infrastructure improvements in suburban Cook County.
Preckwinkle said it’s now up to the legislative executive branch to pass the budget, and she’s optimistic her proposed ideas will remain intact.
“By the end of November we will have a budget in place and I expect it will be substantially the budget we submitted”.