Faced with stiff opposition
to borrowing $700 million through bonds for the 2009 budget year after
a $380 million increase last year in the sales tax, the Cook County
Board took baby steps Tuesday to paring back their borrowing tab.
Commissioners, rather than approve the Stroger
administration's request, decided to go item by item through the 2009
capital project list and vote yea or nay.
Among the first projects to go was a $2.25 million
parking lot repaving job at a West-Side warehouse. The $300,000 design
contract for the project had been awarded Sept. 4 to Infrastructure
Engineering, a donor to President Todd Stroger, even though it was the
most expensive of three bids.
Administrators argued the company was the most
qualified, even though the other two bidders have experience working
with either the county or the city of Chicago. Commissioner Tim
Schneider of Bartlett had hotly opposed the award.
It was not clear if the design portion of the job will
now be rescinded, or partially rescinded. County documents indicated 2
percent of the design work has already been completed.
Also rejected was a $2.3 million countywide assessment
of the condition of all county buildings, the purchase of warehouse
storage racks for the county clerk's electronic voting machines and
other various capital project items.
But by and large, most of the items carved out for
bonding passed as commissioners stayed into the evening trying to trim
the fat. Commissioners, by law, must pass a 2009 budget by the end of
the first fiscal quarter, which is Feb. 28.