Cook County Board President-Elect Toni Preckwinkle wants county departments to cut their budgets by 21 percent between February and the end of 2011. The county faces a $487 million budget gap for the 2011 fiscal year, which begins December 1.
Preckwinkle said Thursday that the gap is largely due to a decline in sales tax revenue, which resulted from a roll-back of the sales tax rate over the summer. At the same time, Preckwinkle anticipates county costs to go up from negotiations with contract employees. Expenditures are also set to increase because of a $55 million dollar settlement that the county recently reached with county jail inmates over illegal strip-searches.
Preckwinkle says she wants to close much of the gap by having departments collaborate and consolidate. “I've talked to the separately-elected officials,” said Preckwinkle. “I've made it abundantly clear that no one would be absolved from having to make cuts, and no one would be alone in making cuts.” Preckwinkle herself vowed to take a 10 percent salary reduction.
Cook County officials have until the end of February to pass a budget.