Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Tax increase may hinge on a single vote
Faced with his first budget battle, Stroger claims there's nowhere to cut. Reformers say otherwise

Sunday, December 07, 2003
Daily Southtown

For the first time since winning the Cook County Board presidency in 1993, John Stroger will face a serious challenge to a budget proposal when it comes before the full board Tuesday.
The budget showdown will be a political test for Stroger — an old-fashioned ward boss who reveres loyalty and prefers his confrontations to take place behind closed doors.

With potential opposition from the five Republicans on the 17-member board, Stroger faces resistance from members of his own party, too. Three first-term Democrats are leading the charge against Stroger's blueprint, bringing the total to eight.

That leaves them one vote shy of blocking Stroger's proposals to create a lease tax and raise the county's sales tax. They are hoping that vote would come from their freshman colleague, Patricia Joan Murphy, a Democrat from Crestwood.

"There were five (freshmen) elected last year, and we played off each other as we ran in giving people the confidence that we would bring reforms to this board," said Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-13th) of Evanston. "If she breaks, she's the only one, and I think it's a mistake for her, but it's her decision."

Murphy (D-6th) said she plans to vote with Stroger.

"If I look like a reformer or don't look like a reformer, I've been in public office for many years, and sometimes you have to make a hard choice," she said. "I've given it a lot of thought, and it is difficult, but we have to look out for our programs. A lot of people depend on the county, and the (opposition group) has not shown me how this can work without cutting services."

Other potential swing votes for Suffredin's group could come from Democratic commissioners Roberto Maldonado and Earlean Collins of Chicago.

"I am concerned about the lease tax," Maldonado (D-8th) said. "Illinois would become the only state that would allow for a double taxation. That's wrong."

The 4 percent lease tax on Cook County residents would be on top of a 6 percent lease tax already in place in Chicago. In other words, Chicago residents would pay 10 percent extra to rent or lease everything from videos to new cars and heavy equipment.

Collins (D-1st) didn't return a call for comment.

The sales tax increase would boost the county's share of the tax by a quarter of a cent, from 0.75 percent to 1 percent.

Potentially at stake are county jobs, services and taxpayers' wallets.

"This is the first time in 17 years on the board that I've seen this much contention around the budget," said Commissioner Bobbie Steele (D-2nd), who said she committed to supporting Stroger's recommendations.

Stroger said his tax proposals are necessary to keep up with rising costs while holding the county's property tax levy steady at $720.5 million for a fifth consecutive year. Unlike other taxing bodies that capture more property tax revenue each year because of increasing property values, Cook County has dropped its tax rate to offset the increase in property values, Stroger noted.

But some members on the county board say the budget is still too fat. The standoff has created two contrasting portrayals of Cook County government: A lean operation with the overwhelming and expensive responsibility of caring for the county's poorest vs. a bureaucratic beast that takes care of the politically connected.

"Our biggest obstacle is that the board is not used to having this be a legislative process where the legislative body presents amendments," Suffredin said. "They're used to the Enron model of a board, which means if the CEO presents something, you ratify it."

Unlike the state Legislature, which routinely revises the governor's proposed budget, the Cook County Board traditionally has gone along with the president's recommendations. Some board members say they trust Stroger's financial advisers.

"We pay our advisers a good deal of money on how to best run this county, and we have a good bond rating," Murphy said. "Rather than the other first-year commissioners who, like me, haven't been in the business that long, I'm going to rely on our financial advisers."

Those advisers say the alternatives presented by outspoken Stroger critics are "irresponsible" and would cost the county more than 3,000 jobs — many of them at the county's hospitals, where qualified doctors, nurses, technicians and pharmacists are desperately needed already.

Stroger said "Jesus couldn't do" what his opponents want him to do with the budget.

Suffredin and his supporters, including commissioners Forrest Claypool (D-12th) and Mike Quigley (D-10th), say tax increases can be avoided without hurting services. In many departments, carrying over unfilled jobs year to year is a way the county squirrels away money. Cleaning up the budget by eliminating the openings would free up revenue for other purposes, the opposition commissioners contend. They say unspent money each year amounts to about $200 million — money taxpayers shouldn't be charged in the first place.

They also point to money being spent on consultants and a lawsuit settlement of $40 million sitting untouched in a county account. Stroger said he may need that money for union wages.

Suffredin and some of the other commissioners say not only are some of the tax increases unnecessary, they believe the county can cut spending in 2004 by 2 percent from this year's level.

If the tax increases are shot down, Stroger will have to revise his budget blueprint. That possibility sent Stroger's aides working overtime to convince commissioners the tax increases are the only answer to keep up with rising costs in health care and public safety.

County government should not be pummeled as "wasteful" after five years of responsibly managing the property tax levy, they say.

"There will be a lot of poor people hurt if we follow their suggestions," Stroger said.



Recent Headlines

Unemployment rate unexpectedly falls
Friday, June 05, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

$140M renovation to transform old Cook County Hospital into hotel, office complex nearly complete
Friday, June 05, 2020
WLS ABC 7 Eyewitness News

How badly will COVID, looting hurt CPS finances?
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Jail releases could be spreading COVID-19 in community, study suggests
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Daily COVID-19 cases dip under 1,000, but officials warn it could take 2 weeks to see if protests prompt uptick (LIVE UPDATES)
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County state’s attorney’s office says it will review allegations that Chicago cops pulled woman from car by her hair and placed knee on her neck
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Report: 1 in 6 Chicago COVID-19 Cases Can Be Tied to Cook County Jail
Thursday, June 04, 2020
WTTW News

Cook County campsites, dog parks among amenities reopening
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Daily Herald

Rapper Vic Mensa: ‘The real looting is the looting of the body of George Floyd’ and other African Americans killed by police
Thursday, June 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘We’re Here To Pray For Peace’: Faith Organizations March In Bronzeville To Protest George Floyd Killing
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
WBEZ News

The Spin: Politicians pivot to police reform | For Lightfoot, Preckwinkle and others, George Floyd death a painful reminder of racism in their lives | Chicago begins reopening
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

‘COVID-19 Adjustment’ may lessen Cook County property taxes in light of pandemic
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
JD Supra

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

More positive results for antiviral drug remdesivir in battle against COVID-19
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Live Updates: Looting Causes Food Shortages; Security Firms See Spike In Demand
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
WBEZ

So many were killed by gunfire in Chicago Sunday, the medical examiner brought in extra pathologists for the autopsies
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Social distancing measures remain in place at county jail
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Protests and peace: Pritzker, Preckwinkle, Cupich call for ‘peaceful action’ to stem ‘contagion’ of racism
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

With Dozens Being Shot Every Day, Anti-Violence Groups Continue Working Amid Looting And COVID-19
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
WBEZ News

Judge tells Cicero no more surprise visits at nursing home where more than a dozen died from coronavirus
Tuesday, June 02, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP