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When Ends Won't Meet

By Amy Hart in News on Sep 21, 2005 2:26PM


Wondering how you can make the $100 left in your checking account stretch far enough to pay for groceries and the new iPod nano? Thinking that maybe you can pay just the minimum on this month’s Visa bill so you have enough drinking money for the weekend? Well, get in line buddy.

Cook County commissioners learned on Tuesday that the budget deficit for 2006 could rise to over $300 million. Ouch. This is nearly quadruple the 2005 budget deficit of $73 million. Double ouch.

The 2005 budget predicament led to discord between the commissioners, with County Board President John Stroger pushing for tax hikes, while his opponents claimed that Stroger needed to instead decrease spending in his administration and restructure operations. In the end, property taxes were not raised and personnel levels were reduced to balance this year’s budget.

But if 2005 gave us a budget crisis, then 2006 presents a budget CRISIS, and changes may be on the way. Residents are surely not going to embrace a tax hike, but will they want to face any reductions in services ranging from public safety, law enforcement, and the judicial and corrections systems? All 17 of the Cook County commissioners are up for reelection next year, 2005_09_johnstroger.jpgand their constituents may start demanding more bang for the buck.

Stroger (pictured) has announced that he is planning on running for reelection next spring, and he will face strong challenges from fellow Democrats Mike Quigley and Forest Claypool, along with Republicans Tony Peraica and Liz Gorman.

The 2006 race looks like it might be heating up, but Stroger may have one huge advantage… do any of these challengers have a hospital named after them? Hmm??!!?