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Actual cuts not as dire as predicted before pop tax repeal

Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017

* 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.”

* Today

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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Fax Machine - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 9:56 am:

    As mad as Preckwinkle is about getting the tax repealed, she must be absolutely loving sticking it to Timothy Evans by laying off 222 of his people.

  2. - Sue - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    Tiday’s WSJ- we have lost more tax revenue from high wage residents fleeing then any other state. Not per capita but actual dollars. Seeing we are half the size of NY or CA that’s just staggering

  3. - SAP - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:03 am:

    ==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.==

    Picking the wrong enemies sure is expensive.

  4. - Truthteller - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:04 am:

    If one presumes that none of the 700+ positions eliminated are important to service delivery, that none of the 600 employees being laid off provide essential services, that the work which would otherwise be performed by furloughed will get done in a timely fashion, then the impact may not be as great as anticipated.
    And if all these things are true why did the commissioners opposed to the pop tax not propose these cuts before?
    And if the County doesn’t need the money, why tax marijuana ? Just make it legal!

  5. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:11 am:

    I’m a hopeful the cuts will begin in Dart’s media/PR department, which houses the wife of a Sun-Times political columnist, a broadcast political reporter’s son and the wife of a former Tribune reporter/columnist. Not sure why the Sherriff needs so many spokepeople? These flacks should be among the first to go.

  6. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:13 am:

    Why would any political office get a publicly paid PR Department?

  7. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:14 am:

    The cuts proposed should have been done well before the silly soda tax was considered.

  8. - Ghost - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:16 am:

    Bring in coke as a sponsor…. Hang brought to you by coke banners from cook county hospital, the clinics etc…. problem solved :)

  9. - Urban Girl - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:18 am:

    Two things jump out at me. The cuts to justice programs and drug school for nonviolent offenders - will these cuts come back to bite us with more recidivism with nonviolent offenders. The 15 furlough days for nonunion employees - unsure how many nonunion employees there are, but three weeks without pay (even spread over a year) will feel dire to each individual.

  10. - Anon - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:19 am:

    Dart has 498 management/political exempt positions. Former Sheriff Sheahan had 197. Shockingly he is not cutting any of these hacks and put out memo he’s cutting 150 more court deputy sheriff’s.. This after the public defenders are getting assaulted in the court lockups because of lack of security. Dart has mismanaged the Sheriff office so bad he should resign

  11. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:24 am:

    “three weeks without pay (even spread over a year) will feel dire to each individual”

    A very unfortunate consequence of terribly run government.

  12. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:25 am:

    Anon, thanks. Looks like I will be voting against Dart.

  13. - Platinum Goose - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 10:45 am:

    “three weeks without pay (even spread over a year) will feel dire to each individual”

    For someone making $75,000 a year that comes to a loss of about $360 a month. Are their wages being frozen too or will they receive some sort of cost of living increase. Assuming a 3.5% cost of living increase that knocks the loss down to $155 a month. Not good to lose that much a month but I would venture to say that any other non public sector employee has lost more than that due to increases in their healthcare premiums.

  14. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 11:34 am:

    11% across the board cut in county spending. Now we’re talking. Do this at the state level, every school district, every college, eveey road district, every levee district. Did I forget anyone?

  15. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    I completely agree with Blue dog dem. This is not that hard.

  16. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Correct me if I’m wrong (and I know someone will) but in looking at the organizational chart for Cook County, neither the Clerk of the Court, the Sheriff, nor the Chief Judge, come under offices controlled by the President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. They are all independently elected offices. Their money comes from the County Board, but what they do with that money should be their decision to make. So if Dart wants 1000 management spots and 500 corrections officers, that should be his dumb decision to make. If the Chief Judge wants to have his people take furlough days instead of laying them off that should be his call as long as his does it with the money the Board allocates to him. Toni thinks she is (and has described herself as) the President of Cook County. No such job title exists.

  17. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 12:46 pm:

    “Why would any political office get a publicly paid PR Department?”

    What a silly comment. Ron, would you prefer your public officials have no communications with the public? Can you envision no reason why there should be professional communicators who work for public bodies?

  18. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    “would you prefer your public officials have no communications with the public?”

    Seriously? I prefer them do it themselves, instead of the taxpayers paying for it.

  19. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 12:54 pm:

    And why the does Dart need so many of these people? What is he advertising? Jail time?

  20. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    ==This is not that hard.==

    Spoken by somebody who has no clue about budgets.

  21. - Ron - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 1:16 pm:

    I actually have to maintain various budgets as part of my employment. Unlike Illinois pols apparently.

  22. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    Then you should know that across the board cuts isn’t a way to manage a budget.

  23. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 1:29 pm:

    Dem. Since Illinois politicians can’t seem to make any tough decisions, they can hide behind a 10% across the board. Worrying about the state bird, who’s the main attraction at the state fair or sex harrassment training for politicians is the least of this states concerns.

  24. - Pundent - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    =I actually have to maintain various budgets as part of my employment. Unlike Illinois pols apparently.=

    And does your employment also operate under consent decrees and federal matching funds? To suggest that all that’s lacking here is “common sense” is to deny it in the first place.

  25. - Roman - Tuesday, Nov 14, 17 @ 2:41 pm:

    - West Side is the Best Side -

    I had an old pol tell me once that the Cook County Board was little more than a glorified budget committee, with the president as the committee chair…they don’t really pass any ordinances and the constitutional officers (sheriff, states atty, clerk, etc.) set their own policies.

    They are a little more involved in policy-making at the hospital — and lo and behold, which agency seems to be spared of the deepest cuts?

  26. - cc - Wednesday, Nov 15, 17 @ 1:53 am:

    Why would downgrading level 1 trauma center hospital do anything except bring harm to the citizens of the city?

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