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Preckwinkle Predicts More County Layoffs For Next Year

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Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle discusses the county’s budget shortfall following a Cook County Board meeting on July 27, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Wednesday that more layoffs are coming to help cover the county’s budget shortfall.

Preckwinkle did not put a specific number on the number of layoffs that would be needed or the exact size of the county’s budget deficit, although she said it’s too big to be covered by attrition.

Last year, Preckwinkle faced a $487 million shortfall for her first budget as the head of county government. To help cover that deficit, the county laid off more than 1,000 employees.

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“As there were layoffs last year, I expect that … it is inevitable that there will be layoffs this year,” Preckwinkle said at a press conference at the County Building on Wednesday.

Most of last year’s county budget shortfall was the result of $264 million in lost revenue from Preckwinkle following through on a campaign promise to roll back the remaining half cent on the dollar sales tax hike enacted by her predecessor, Todd Stroger.

Because this year’s budget hole isn’t as deep as last year’s, it’s likely fewer layoffs will be necessary.

Earlier in the year, Preckwinkle predicted the budget shortfall to be $250 million to $300 million.

Preckwinkle would like to have the new budget approved by the end of the county’s fiscal year on Nov. 30. The current year’s budget was not approved until late February, largely because of the turnover at the county board.

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