About Cook County Government
Cook County is a home rule county and is governed by a seventeen-member Board of Commissioners and a Chief Executive Officer, who is elected to the office of the President of the Board. The Commissioners and the President of the Cook County Board are elected to serve four-year terms.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners is the governing policy board and legislative body of the county. The Rules of the Board are approved at the beginning of each four-year term.
There are 17 Commissioners elected by districts who have authority over and final approval of the County's fiscal year budget and appropriations. The County Board's oversight of each county office's budgeted dollars is done through its Finance Committee where all county proposed contracts and expenditures over $10,000 are discussed and considered for the Board's approval.
The Board of Commissioners conducts its business at regularly held bi-monthly County Board meetings, Business items not approved by the Board at these regularly held bi-monthly meetings are referred to one of the Board's eighteen standing legislative committees and thirteen subcommittee for further discussion, public comment and recommended action by the full Board. These committees meet at the discretion and call of the committee's and subcommittee's respective Chairman. In addition to meetings called by the Chairman, the Board's Finance, Roads and Bridges, and Zoning and Building Committees also conduct business at regularly held bi-monthly meetings that coincide with the County Board meetings.
The seventeen Commissioners also serve as the Board of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, a special purpose taxing district established pursuant to state law (70 ILCS 810.). As Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District, the Board also has jurisdiction over the forest preserve areas of the County. Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Botanic Gardens properties are owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.
The unincorporated areas of the County are also under the jurisdiction of the Cook County Board of Commissioners.
In addition to a 17-member Board of Commissioners, Cook County's government organization falls under eleven elected offices: the Assessor, 3 Commissioners of the Board of Review, County Clerk, Clerk of the Circuit Court, President of the County, Recorder of Deeds, Sheriff, State's Attorney, and Treasurer. The President directs the administrative services of county government that fall under six county bureaus containing 35 departments, as well as 6 independent offices that report directly to the President. With the consent of the Cook County Board, the President appoints the Bureau Chiefs of the county bureaus and Directors of the departments.
Cook County government also includes the largest unified court and criminal justice system in the nation - the Circuit Court of Cook County, the largest single-site jail in the United States - the Cook County Department of Corrections, the first and one of the largest juvenile justice systems and facility - the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, and the third largest public health system in the nation.