The first-term county executive said she held off enacting the new tax after residents said “the current way of providing services to unincorporated Cook is either inequitable or inefficient.”

It was an “open question” whether there would have been enough votes on the County Board to approve the tax, Preckwinkle said. “In the end, you have to decide what you’re going to fight about,” she said.

But Preckwinkle said the panel will need to find some long-term way to end the practice of county residents who live in cities, towns and villages in effect subsidizing the services those in unincorporated areas receive.

“It’s only a question of how this gets done, not whether it gets done,” Preckwinkle said at a news conference outside her office.

Commissioner Timothy Schneider, R-Streamwood, said a large portion of the annual savings the panel has to find might come through utilizing municipal police rather than sheriff’s police to patrol the pockets of unincorporated residences.

“First, we have to determine whether there’s a willingness from the local municipalities to provide these services, and at what cost,” said Schneider, who will serve on the panel.

Opponents also pointed out that unincorporated residents already pay property taxes to the county.

Preckwinkle was counting on $11 million per year through the unincorporated tax. It would not have taken effect until the second half of next year, so she only had to find $5.5 million elsewhere to plug the resulting budget hole.