Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s budget proposal, released today, would increase tax revenue from alcohol and tobacco, reduce the number of inmates in county jails and layoff more than 1,000 employees.
Preckwinkle’s budget seeks to close a $315 million budget gap. Her full $2.9 billion budget recommendation can be viewed on the County’s website.
Key proposals include:
- Increasing the county’s alcoholic beverage tax for the first time since 1989. According to the Chicago Tribune, taxes on beer would increase from 6 cents to 9 cents a gallon. Liquor that’s more than 40 proof would increase from $2 to $2.50 a gallon.
- Taxing all tobacco products, such as roll-your-own tobacco, and not just cigarettes. Preckwinkle estimates this would bring in $12 million in revenue.
- Reducing the county’s inmate population from about 8,500 to 7,500, with a projected savings of $5 million. This would be accomplished, Preckwinkle said, by increasing the use of electronic monitoring, I-bonds and other “community-based alternatives.” She is also seeking to decrease the number of people in juvenile detention centers.
- Laying off 1,000 employees throughout Cook County offices, with a projected savings of $40 million.
Of particular interest to suburban Cook County residents, Preckwinkle has proposed:
- Ending the taxpayer subsidy for policing unincorporated Cook County. According to an article in the Daily Herald, that would affect about 100,000 people, who would “be given the choice to pay the new fee for continued patrol service by the sheriff's office, contract with the nearest municipality for police protection or annex to the nearest municipality and pay for police service through municipal property taxes.”
- Hiring seasonal employees to do snow and ice removal instead of full-time staff, which she says would both increase the number of plows on the roads and save $200,000.
- Instituting parking fees at county facilities, including suburban district courthouses. Rates would be $4.75 per day or $65 per month, for a projected $4 million in revenue.
Four public hearings on the budget will be held starting Nov. 1 with a hearing at 6:30 p.m. at the Skokie Courthouse. Click here for a full list of upcoming hearings.
In the meantime, let us know in the comments section what you think of the budget proposals.