Preckwinkle releases Cook County 2014 preliminary budget

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released the preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2014.

It has a projected a $152.1 million deficit.

In Fiscal Year 2011, the deficit was $487 million.  In 2012 it was $315.2 million and in 2013 it was $267.5 million.

“We have reduced our deficit each year, even while rolling back the sales tax increase,” President Preckwinkle said.  “As the gap continues to close, it is increasingly difficult to reduce expenses and become more efficient, however, I am confident we will be able to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget without raising property or sales taxes.”

The most significant driver of the County’s projected deficit in 2014 comes from $166 million in rising personnel costs, employee health benefits and other, non-personnel spending.  Projected revenue losses of $60 million are primarily driven by the residual impact of the final .25% sales tax rollback and the recent reduction of the non-titled use tax.  These deficits are offset by an anticipated $74 million positive net impact due to the full implementation of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The combination of these factors leads to the lowest projected budget gap since President Preckwinkle took office.

President Preckwinkle announced that she will host a public hearing on the preliminary budget at 6 p.m. on July 11th in the Cook County Board room.

“I am calling on residents, the County Board, separately elected officials, civic groups, labor unions and other interested parties to give our office feedback as we craft our budget,” President Preckwinkle said.

Residents will have an opportunity to provide testimony and engage directly with the President’s office on their budget priorities.  The President’s office will live-stream the public hearing so residents can use social media to ask questions.  Prior to the hearing, residents can visit to view the preliminary budget and access more information about how the County allocates resources.  Residents can also take advantage of an interactive feature called “Tell Toni” to show the choices they would make to balance the budget.  Twitter users can use the hash tag “#TellToni” to share their thoughts online during the hearing.

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