Monday, November 13, 2017 || By Igor Studenkov || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A chart breaking down the county’s FY 2018 operating budget by office, released by the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. | Cook County
During a Nov. 7 town hall he organized in Chicago, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st), whose district includes all or parts of Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood, presented an outline of the county’s budget.
Boykin said that Cook County had four official public hearings. He also held three public hearings of his own.
Boykin gave a breakdown of the proposed operating budget. According to the handout he provided, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle proposed spending a total of $5.36 billion.
A chart breaking down the county’s FY 2018 operating budget by office, released by the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. | Cook County
Boykin noted that, thanks to the repeal of the Sweetened Beverage Tax, which he championed, next year’s budget had a $200 million hole. To help make up for it, every department was asked to cut 10 percent. However, the way this actually worked out was mixed.
“The [Cook County] Treasurer exceeded 10 percent and she cut 20 percent,” Boykin said. “The Sheriff only cut $10 million.”
The commissioner noted that the county is looking to make up for the gap in other ways.
“We’re going to be able to balance the budget without raising taxes,” Boykin said. “There are going to be increased fees at the Record of Deeds and we’re going to increase some fees at the County Clerk’s [office].”
He said that he would personally like to see the county cut Cook County Health and Hospitals System Oak Brook hospital campus, which he described as under-utilized, but he was well aware of the kind of public backlash that would cause.
Another resident, who declined to give her name but identified herself as a county employee, argued that the county has too many administrative positions, and it could save money by trimming them. Boykin responded that he wouldn’t mind seeing cuts, but only up to a point.
“I will not go for the budget that cut public defenders, attorneys and sheriff’s police,” he said, adding that he felt that the county had a moral obligation to keep residents safe and healthy.
So while, for example, he may not be averse to cutting doctors’ bonuses, Boykin said, he didn’t want to cut anything that would significantly affect the county health system’s ability to care for patients. VFP