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Preckwinkle: Cook County Is $315 Million In The Red

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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 has outlined preliminary budget estimates that show county government still swimming in red ink.

As WBBM Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Preckwinkle says her budget team projects a $315 million shortfall in the 2012 budget, and a $116 million shortfall for the balance of this year.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

She says some of the deficits are because of lagging collections and reimbursements from the health care system. Lower revenues were also driven by the decision to repeal the controversial sales tax increase approved under former President Todd Stroger three years ago, but Preckwinkle has no regrets.

“I thought then, and I think now, that that was good for the working families of our county, and good for our businesses,” Preckwinkle said. “But it does have financial consequences.”

Preckwinkle says the goal in the coming months is reduce costs, and she’s asking employee unions to participate in that process.

Previously, Preckwinkle also said attrition and the elimination of vacant positions would not be enough to produce the staff cuts required for a balanced budget, so layoffs are coming again.

The county budget, which typically totals about $3 billion, funds the entire county court, jail and public hospital system, among several other departments and offices. State law mandates that the county pass a balance budget by the end of February each year.

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