October 26, 2012
The Civic Federation supports the Cook County FY2013 operating budget of $2.9 billion for its disciplined approach to significant budget challenges. The proposed budget holds the property tax levy nearly flat and marks the fulfillment of Board President Preckwinkle’s pledge to fully roll back the 2008 sales tax increase. Actions taken to close the County’s $267.5 million shortfall in FY2013 include vacancy eliminations, energy savings, savings from implementing managed competition and targeted revenue enhancements.
The Civic Federation is concerned about the County’s long-term structural deficit due to rising healthcare and personnel costs paired with downward revenue trends. The analysis highlights an alarming drop in the funded status of the County’s pension fund, from 74.7% in FY2002 to 57.5% in FY2011. The Civic Federation is encouraged by the County’s initial steps toward pension reform including the data provided on Commissioner Gainer’s OpenPensions.org website. The Federation urges the County to move forward as soon as possible with identifying sustainable reforms and promoting necessary legislation in the Illinois General Assembly.