Concerned about the harmful impact of a continued state budget stalemate, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is taking proactive steps and requesting that all Cook County offices and agencies implement cost-savings.
“The continued lack of a state budget is jeopardizing crucial services to Cook County residents,” President Preckwinkle said. “Important programs are in peril because we do not have a state budget. We are initiating further cost savings this fiscal year, on top of the $112 million in cuts and positions we eliminated during our budget process, to ensure funds to continue providing critical programs that help Cook County residents.”
With the state’s budget impasse impacting County finances and no clear resolution in sight, President Preckwinkle instructed her budget office to begin a thorough search for additional ways to reduce costs shortly after passing the County budget in November. As part of this savings directive, the County is planning to institute a 0.5 percent holdback on personnel. An additional 3 percent in the holdback for non-personnel accounts will also be implemented.
The holdback falls under the statutory discretion of the County’s budget director and serves as a savings mechanism by retaining, or holding back, dollars allocated to County departments in the budget. Applied to County bureaus, departments and independently elected offices, the holdbacks will be effective March 15 and extend until the end of the County’s fiscal year on November 30.
The state remains in arrears for FY 15 grant payments to the County, and Preckwinkle noted the state also now owes more than $100 million to the Cook County Health and Hospital System (CCHHS) for payments associated with the County’s managed care network, CountyCare.
“My concern is for the people in Cook County who are being dramatically and unfairly harmed as this budget impasse continues,” Preckwinkle said. “I am again calling on our state’s leaders to pass a budget so we can ensure these and other important services and programs can continue operating.”