* October 2nd…
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is going on offense as a vote nears on whether to repeal her highly unpopular tax on sweetened beverages, saying doing so could force an 11 percent across-the-board cut in county spending.
In a fiscal note sent to commissioners just before the weekend, Ammar Rizki, the county’s acting chief financial officer, said losing the tax would reduce county income slightly over $200 million in fiscal 2018 without a new revenue source, resulting in “an approximate 11 percent reduction to each of those departments and offices from their base FY2017 appropriated expenditures.”
* October 5th…
Included as possible cuts: the closure of some county health clinics, “reduction of services at or closure of Provident Hospital or the Oak Forest Health Center” and possible “downgrading our Level 1 trauma center at Stroger” Hospital.
Also, she warned, a recent cost-saving reduction in the inmate population at the jail, from 10,000 to under 7,500, now could be reversed because of cuts to prosecutors, public defenders and jail-avoidance programs, forcing more suspects to be held in jail pending trial. And equally in jeopardy is “our ability to send out property-tax bills on time.”
Even the security of local elections is on the line, because “cash for new election equipment to protect our voting systems from cyber-attacks would have to be purchased on borrowed money, which ultimately increases our bill dramatically.”
Rebuked on a pop tax, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday proposed cutting $200 million through a mix of laying off midlevel managers, holding the line on raises and requiring workers to take unpaid days off. […]
“It seems to be a solid plan,” said Commissioner Sean Morrison, a Palos Park Republican who was the main sponsor on the repeal that was approved 15-2 last month. “I’m certain that there’s going to be something that will be tweaked. That’s just normal. […]
The biggest savings — $96.3 million — would come from a series of moves that includes delaying purchases of equipment; stepped-up enforcement of parking, cigarette and alcohol taxes; cutting justice program funding and a drug-school program for nonviolent offenders; and reduced spending on things like travel, postage, office supplies and printing. That figure also counts on holding the line on salary increases across the board. There would be seven unpaid days off for Circuit Court clerk union employees, and 15 furlough days for nonunion workers in the office. Salaries would have to be negotiated with multiple unions, but commissioners said there’s union buy-in on the furlough days.
Nearly $50 million in savings would come from eliminating 746 currently vacant positions. Preckwinkle had already proposed axing 254 vacancies from the budget, so the total would be 1,000.
An additional $51 million would be saved through hundreds of layoffs to reduce the number of midlevel managers, eliminating some programs and reducing some staffing in noncritical areas. The job cutbacks would have the biggest effect on the offices of Dart and Evans, with the sheriff facing 244 layoffs and the chief judge 222, commissioners said.