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Preckwinkle To County Officials: Brace For Big Cuts

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Toni Preckwinkle, right, with Cook County Commissioner John Daley, discusses the county budget. (CBS)

Toni Preckwinkle, right, with Cook County Commissioner John Daley, discusses the county budget. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The president-elect of the Cook County Board says she will cut parts of the county budget by 21 percent.

Toni Preckwinkle says she has to do that because Cook County is $487 million in the red. She laid out her plans Thursday to balance the budget.

Preckwinkle met with all the county elected officials and delivered a short, but painful message, CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

“The challenge is to find 21 percent in savings in the three quarters of the fiscal year that will remain,” she said. “I made it abundantly clear that no one would be absolved from having to make cuts and no one would be alone in making cuts.”

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Craig Dellimore Reports

By ordering all seven elected officials to trim their budgets by 21 percent, Preckwinkle is asking for cuts in places like the county jail, the county hospitals, the offices of the recorder of deeds, and the board of elections.

Cook County Commissioner John Daley, head of the county’s Finance Committee, said it’s up to each official to decide what to cut — or be prepared to face the public.

“The plan would be for everyone to come to finance committee and explain to the public why they cannot support this cut and, if not, what source of revenue they expect to fund their office,” Daley said.

How much will a 21 percent cut hurt? 

Here’s one example: The main budget for the county clerk’s office is $8.5 million, so the office would have to slash nearly $2 million. County Clerk David Orr says it won’t be easy because it probably means cutting staff.

A spokesperson for Sheriff Tom Dart said his office will work with Preckwinkle to “try and find solutions that make sense to taxpayers.”

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