County Approves Budget
By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 26, 2011 3:25PM
After over 19 hours of deliberations, the Cook County Board unanimously approved a $3 billion budget at 4:25 this morning.
The meeting, which began with the gradual repeal of the penny sales tax hike, comes with a major concession from labor unions, who agreed to take 10 unpaid furlough days this year. The concession by labor cut the number of expected layoffs by 550 workers, to 750. That number may dip further if AFSCME, which hasn't yet made a decision on the furlough days, comes to a decision to do so before March 11.
In addition to labor's furlough days, county government will shut down for five extra days atop holidays this year in a cost-cutting measure, with the exception of Cook County Jail, the county health and hospital system and other offices providing "vital services."
The passing of the budget, and getting labor unions to agree to the furlough concessions, marks one of the first major victories in County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's tenure. After the vote, Preckwinkle expressed her gratitude to the Board. “I want to thank all of you for all of your hard work over the last three months and particularly your patience and forbearance this evening," she said. Northwest side county commissioner Gregg Goslin said the budget was the sort of creative thinking needed for Cook County to continue to provide the services it does.