Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) today announced a joint plan to eliminate proposed parking fees for jurors and law enforcement officials at Cook County courthouses.
Under the introduced budget, all individuals utilizing County courthouse parking lots would be required to pay a $4.75 daily charge. The new proposal will exempt both jurors as well as law enforcement officers required to testify or attend a hearing. Both groups will now get their parking validated and have the fee waived. The solution came after days of collaboration between the respective offices as Preckwinkle and Fritchey worked to find an equitable way to ensure a balanced budget without asking civil servants to pay more.
“Our budget calls for shared sacrifice across the board, but jurors play a critical role in the administration of public safety in our communities,” President Preckwinkle said. “That’s why I am grateful to have worked so closely with Commissioner Fritchey to find a solution that will cut these fee increases for jurors and law enforcement, and still balance our budget in a way that’s comprehensive and forward-thinking. Our priorities are to invest in public health, public safety and suburban infrastructure and this budget accomplishes that.”
The President’s office estimated that the revenue that would have been generated from juror and law enforcement parking fees would have yielded over $700,000, which also properly accounts for the parking tax levied by the City of Chicago. This funding is being offset by additional identified efficiencies in the areas of staff training, transportation expenses, graphics and printing services, and miscellaneous purchases as well as a proposed consolidation of the print shop in the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office into the Bureau of Administration.
“While our primary task is to create an effective and efficient budget for the operations of County government, I didn’t believe that it was fair to do so on the backs of jurors performing their civic duties or on law enforcement officers assisting our criminal justice system,” said Commissioner Fritchey. “This proposal allows us to continue to pursue the President’s vision in a more equitable manner. Good leadership requires both vision and a willingness to listen. I applaud President Preckwinkle for having both qualities.”
The revised revenue projection for parking fees at courthouses for FY 2012 is $3.3 million. The parking fees will not go into effect for another 6 months.
Preckwinkle and Fritchey said they expect to continue to work together to build consensus among the County Board for the President’s FY 2012 Budget and for additional ways to save taxpayer dollars in the years to come.
“At the end of the day, governing is about working together to find the best solution for the people you serve, and I want to work with anyone who shares my goals of fiscal responsibility, improved services, and making County government more transparent and accountable to its residents,” Preckwinkle added.