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Preckwinkle: Layoffs are "Inevitable"

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 29, 2011 2:43PM

2009_6_Toni_Preckwinkle_3.jpg Faced with her own budget deficit, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, in her typical straight talking manner, didn't mince words and said that layoffs would be part of any efforts to balance the budget.

A county government source told the Sun-Times that Preckwinkle is facing a budget deficit north of $300 million as county government heads into budget planning season. Preckwinkle said, "There's no way given the magnitude of the shortfall that we'll be able to handle this by attrition" and said she would reach out to labor to give her a report on how county government can cut back similar to the report they sent Mayor Emanuel earlier this week.

Preckwinkle was impressed by that report, saying "they produced a very substantial document about how the city could save money, manage its resources better and basically make the city government more efficient in ways other than laying off front-line workers."

If there's a silver lining to the county deficit it's that the projection is much less than in previous years but, as Commission Peter Silvestri of Elmwood park noted, is still #315 million. Silvestri laid most of the blame on the shortfalls with the county health and hospital system, which is waiting for money from the state from Medicaid bills and hasn't implemented a new billing system.

In other Preckwinkle news, the County Board President had a discussion earlier this week with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy about halting arrests for low level marijuana possession. “I suggested to him that although the law is pretty clear that such possession is a violation of the law, that since the judges routinely and almost universally dismiss such low level drug charges that the police might stop arresting people for this since it clogs up our jail and these people their cases will be dismissed out anyway," she said after Wednesday's County Board meeting.