Cook County turns to cutbacks, layoffs to close $200 million budget gap
In Cook County's budget for fiscal year 2018 that was unanimously passed, commissioners agreed to employ expenditure reductions, including 321 layoffs and over 1,000 vacancy closures, as the primary way to close a $200.6 million gap left after the repeal of the sweetened beverage tax.
“Through shared sacrifice and cooperation we were able to develop and pass a balanced budget,” Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a release. “We have had to make exceedingly difficult but necessary choices, but we have met our fiscal obligation to the people of Cook County, while at the same time protecting key public health and public safety services. I remain committed to building on the progress we have made over the past seven years of passing balanced budgets and working to secure the county’s financial future.”
The layoffs will mean the merging of human resources and other county resources as well as closing a branch court, a Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) and other County Jail divisions. The layoffs in the courts and jail are possible because the county has seen a long-term reduction in the number of people in the correctional system, the release said.
Preckwinkle regrets that the layoffs were necessary to fix the budget but praised commissioners for making an effort to address the problems by talking to elected officials, bureau chiefs and department heads. She hoped the budget will provide Cook County residents with more transparency of where the county spends its money.