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Prosecutors to get hard-fought raises
COUNTY BOARD | May be funded with tax hike next year

Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County officials say they've found a way to deliver pay raises for prosecutors and thousands of other non-union employees, giving them pay comparable to their union-backed counterparts.
Finding $21 million to make that happen comes as leaders of the cash-strapped government go hat-in-hand, asking for bailouts from the state and federal government and as some county employees work days without pay.
But the salary hikes -- 8 percent and a $500 bonus for assistant state's attorneys, 3 percent and a $1,000 bonus for others, with a promise of 4.75 percent more for all next year -- are being funded this year thanks to the settlement of lawsuits.
And how will the county pay for those raises next year?
Get ready to pay up.
"There'll be some kind of tax," County Board President Todd Stroger said Monday.
"Everything would have to be on the table," Commissioner and Finance Chairman John Daley said.
"Any commissioner who votes for this is voting for new revenues [next year]," Commissioner Larry Suffredin said.
The County Board is expected to approve the deal at today's meeting, putting an end to months of threats and tension between prosecutors and county commissioners.
But the move also opens the 2008 budget season with a looming question of just how to cover $113 million needed to pay for raises for all employees, union and non-union.
Commissioner Mike Quigley said he won't support tax hikes, but instead wants to see more streamlining and a search for other ways for the county to raise money.
Some feel left out
Cook County State's Attorney Richard Devine made clear he'll continue working with Stroger's office to find a way to fund raises in 2008, as he called the raises "vital" to keeping "a number of experienced and talented prosecutors from leaving" their jobs.
But the deal struck Monday leaves some non-union employees in the state's attorney's office feeling left out, as they will get only a sliver of what prosecutors are reaping.
"It's totally degrading for our unit that we're being forgotten," said Sandy Chavez, a victim/witness assistance unit supervisor.
No quick exit for Stroger Hospital police
The embattled Stroger Hospital police force is going to be around a bit longer than expected -- and how much longer could be decided today.
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger is seeking bids from private security firms after the board voted in February to dissolve the 65-member force in the wake of repeated complaints about rough treatment and brutality against hospital visitors.
That vote called for the force to be gone by Sept. 1, but Commissioners Peter Silvestri and Liz Gorman are among those asking the board today to put off a decision until savings and alternative plans can be studied.
Stroger spokeswoman Ibis Antongiorgi said regardless of the board decision, the president's office will find funds to keep the force intact at least until bids come back from private security firms.
Gorman said there is a need to overhaul the hospital force and "who they're hiring, who they're not firing and some of the thugs with guns who are out there."

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