Originally published December 22, 2010–Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was joined today by Cook County Board Finance Committee Chairman John Daley and a group of County elected officials including Assessor Joseph Berrios, Cook County Health and Hospital System Chief Executive Officer William Foley, Recorder of Deeds Eugene “Gene” Moore, Clerk David Orr, Treasurer Maria Pappas and Board of Review Commissioners Dan Patlak and Larry Rogers, Jr., all of whom have pledged to make the necessary cuts from their 2011 budgets.
As previously reported, the 2011 budget deficit is an estimated $487 million. By statute, the County Board of Commissioners must approve a balanced budget by the end of February.
On Nov. 18, Preckwinkle invited the 11 County elected officials to a formal meeting to discuss the budget challenges and outline her plan to request 21 percent cuts in the three-quarters remained in FY2011 in order to meet those challenges. (16 percent annualized). More recently, these same elected officials were asked by the President’s Office to submit by Dec. 23 proposed budgets that reflect this reduction.
Preckwinkle said the assembled elected officials have demonstrated a serious commitment to solving the County budget challenges through a spirit of collaboration.
“I have pledged to assemble a team to help me balance the County budget and today you see the start of that team. I want to thank them for joining me today. In particular I want to thank Finance Chairman Daley for his help and support.” she said.
“President Preckwinkle has clearly outlined her administration’s plan for reducing the cost of government, while maintaining the level of essential services that citizens expect from Cook County. I stand with her in full support to help achieve this goal,” said Chairman Daley.
The Chief Judge relayed his commitment to trying to meet a 21 percent reduction. “We are currently considering ways to find savings and make cuts to meet that challenge,” said Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans.
The Chief Judge applauded President Preckwinkle her leadership and her efforts to restore transparency to the budget process.
“The Treasurer’s office is committed to do its part to help solve the County’s budget deficit. My office pledges to meet the necessary budget cuts. We are looking at ways to introduce cost saving measures make the Treasurer’s office more efficient. I thank the President for her leadership,” said Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas.
The Office of the County Board President also released today a Budget Summary to help guide the public through the budget process that will unfold over the coming weeks.
President Preckwinkle said the release of the Budget Summary is a key part of a comprehensive effort to bring transparency to the County budget process.
“We have a tremendous budget challenge before us and we have less than six weeks to meet this challenge. It’s important that the public gains a meaningful understanding of the $3.5 billion county budget and the role of the President, Board of Commissioners and the county’s elected officials in the budget process. Not enough people know about how we get to that $3.5 billion figure and, to me, it’s a major transparency issue,” she said.
“In that spirit of transparency, we will be going out to meet with the public across Cook County to discuss the budget. We will hold Cook County accountable to its residents,” she said.
The Budget Summary also outlines how President Preckwinkle is seeking to find savings and make cuts in her own office and highlights several of the initiatives she introduced since taking office, including a compensation audit at the County’s health clinics and hospitals and a capital moratorium project that will allow for the review of nearly 200 projects with an estimated price tag of over $900 million.
“The objective in my office is the same as it is across the county, in all departments and bureaus – to reduce spending by 21 percent by cutting waste, inefficiencies and redundancies. I have said that no one will be absolved and that no one will be alone in making these tough decisions and we’re working on a daily basis to identify areas where we can realize cost saving,” Preckwinkle said.
President Preckwinkle also announced today the creation of a new annual County award – “The Frontline Award” – for the County department that submits the best idea to improve services in a cost-effective way. Details about the award will be forthcoming.