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Preckwinkle calls for moratorium on county contracts

The head of the Cook County Board is putting the brakes on nearly 200 county construction projects and service contracts to help close the county's $500 dollar budget deficit.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued an executive order Monday that enacts a moratorium on more than 180 projects worth $686 million. Preckwinkle said the next step is to determine which projects will be axed.

"What this means is that all non-essential capital projects and professional service contracts that can be terminated will be terminated," she said. "We won't spend as the county has done in the past."

County departments and commissioners have until next week to produce a complete list of contracts they've authorized, and they'll then help choose which contracts they'll cancel or re-structure, according to Preckwinkle's executive order.

While she declined to name which projects she'd like to see cut, Preckwinkle's office hint at some big-ticket items that could be targeted for restructuring, including a $126 million renovation of Stroger Hospital, a $50.2 million parking garage expansion at the hospital, and a new county health clinic pegged at $92 million.

Preckwinkle says the cuts could save Cook County tens - if not hundreds - of millions of dollars.

County projects relating to public safety, regulatory requirements and projects that receive outside funding aren't affected by the moratorium.

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