Preckwinkle Pushing For New Fees, Tax Hikes

UPDATED 10/25/11 11:21 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has proposed a first-ever fee for parking at the county’s criminal courthouses, as well as a $150 fee on residents of unincorporated areas for county police protection as part of her budget plan for next year.

“I’ve kept my word,” Preckwinkle said as she introduced her budget proposal Tuesday morning. “There’s been nothing easy about this, but we’re taking steps in the right direction. In the budget proposal presented to you today, we’ve solved a $315 million gap. In less than a year in office, we’ve managed to save our taxpayers $800 million in government spending. While we had a smaller deficit last year, in many ways, this is toughest budget the county has had to face.”

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, Preckwinkle is also looking to 1,000 layoffs as well as higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco, cars and boats.

It was all part of an effort to cover a $315 million shortfall while also following through on rolling back half of what’s left of the controversial 2008 sales tax hike. The county will completely roll back that tax hike by 2013.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Under Preckwinkle’s plan, the county would begin charging $4.75 for parking at the garages and lots at its six criminal courthouses – one in Chicago and five in the suburbs of Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham.


County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) said he’s trying to negotiate for one group that would get hit by a new charge.

“A number of these people that are going to the courthouse are there because they’re being summoned for jury duty,” Fritchey said. “I would like us to either waive that cost for people that are there for jury duty or maybe reduce it down to $2 so it’s still much cheaper than it would be to take public transportation.”

Fritchey also said he supports a plan to have residents in unincorporated areas start paying $150 a year for county police protection.

Preckwinkle’s budget plan would increase the use tax on the sale of titled property – such as boats and cars – from .75 percent to 1 percent, to raise $14 million a year.

The county tax on beer, wine and booze, would go up 20 percent to 50 percent. Cook County alone already taxes hard liquor $2 a gallon. New revenue to the county from the alcohol tax hike is estimated at nearly $11 million.

Another quarter-percent in taxes on sales of titled property like cars would bring in $14 million. Closing loopholes for loose tobacco would add $12 million.

Preckwinkle’s budget would cut her own office appropriation by 11 percent, or $11 million, with a loss of 282 positions. Overall, budget cuts would total $54 million and 1,600 jobs eliminated — through about 1,000 layoffs and eliminating about 600 vacant positions.

She also proposes reducing the county jail population by 1,000 inmates, saving $5 million.

“Seventy percent of our jail population is there for non-violent offenses,” Preckwinkle told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine. “We think we can identify 1,000 of those people and put them on electronic monitoring, get them on I-bonds.”

Public safety offices could also see a major loss. The Sheriff’s office could see a cut of $8 million, the Chief Judge about $4 million, and the State’s Attorney’s office about $3 million.

Some county taxpayers called the tax hikes all but inevitable.

“When you are living in Cook County and living in city of Chicago, you’ve got the city with its budget crisis, the county with its budget crisis, and state with its budget crisis, and everywhere you turn, the taxes are going up, and the services are being cut,” said Chicago resident Cindy Stuyvesant. “So you deal with it, but you understand, but ultimately, it’s got to end somewhere.”

The fiscal year starts Dec. 1. State law requires the county to pass a balanced budget by the end of February.

  • tom Sharp

    Which of her friends and family members will be collecting the fees?

  • Andrew Petersen

    I see she is taking the Chicago Parking concepts and applying them to the County.

  • Wolf

    Restructure – headcount and operation cost reductions at 50% level and reform of the fraudulent pension scam- there is more the enough taxpayer funding for these massively bloated operations but there is no management and leadership to make the cuts and restructuring that is needed…

  • woofie

    She’s a Republican.

  • James

    They want convention buisness so the unions make consessions but now conventioneers have to pay a taxi hike, higher hotel taxes and higher liquior prices. So we are saving them money RIGHT! No onder they prefer other towns for conventions. Nice job Cook County and Chicago.

  • DJ

    Get rid of the public aid the county gives before raising taxes.

  • Sandra

    They are already going thru the lot at Markham Courthouse ticketing cars that are already parked for bogus issues. They are also waiting til someone goes into the courthouse then they have the tow trucks waiting to tow any car for any reason and some for nothing. I already have 2 tickets that were put on my car while I was inside of the courthouse attending court with someone. The staff and some of the patrol and detectives are just as guilty of committing some of the violations that they are ticketing the public for. This is just another scam to get money for the state. I don’t think I will give my vote to Ms. Preckwinkle again. She is just like all the rest, They all are LIARS

  • Preckwinkle: Charge Unincorporated Residents For Sheriff’s Police Protection « CBS Chicago

    […] 2′s Derrick Blakley reports that, as part of her budget plan for next year, Preckwinkle wants those residents to pay up for police protection provided by the Cook County […]

  • Edna Callaham

    Do We Really Need Cook County?

    Eliminate Cook County Government Agency; Illinois would immediately eliminate its deficit.

    Illinois should consider (as many other states are currently well underway with re-mapping their interstate lines) eliminating and consolidating entire Cook County Government Agency. Taxes would no longer go to Cook County Government Agency. The Zone of Cook County was established in 1831 before the advent of computers, mass transportation, and major highway infrastructures; however today there is no longer a need for an additional level of Government.

    The premise for having an additional layer of Government is antiquated and based on time and travel efficiencies which are currently costing the residents of Illinois — Billions!

    The State of Illinois could reduce taxes to its residents, while at the same time keeping more tax revenue in the overall State structure, i.e., the County Tax would go away. The Fact is currently, all other Illinois cities, not part of Cook County, are operating without paying “EXTRA” taxes, county costs; however they are relying on the State for services. Diverting Tax dollars currently going to Cook County Government Agency Operations would certainly fund Illinois State and City Governments which already have to maintain duplicate agencies which are already in place. Many of the current Cook County workers can be absorbed into State/City positions.

    Cut current taxes to Illinois residents. Put Tax revenues into Illinois State and Cities. Efficiencies and savings will be immediate to the entire State Of Illinois. One example is Memphis, TN’s Shelby county consolidation.

  • Civic Federation Lauds Preckwinkle’s County Budget Plan « CBS Chicago

    […] The budget plan calls for 1,000 layoffs, along with higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco, cars and boats. It is all part of an effort to cover a $315 million shortfall while rolling back half of what is left of a controversial sales tax hike implemented by former County Board President Todd Stroger. […]

  • Preckwinkle: Despite Tax Hikes, Cook County Residents Will Save $400M « CBS Chicago

    […] The budget plan calls for higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco, cars and boats, and also calls for residents of unincorporated suburban Cook County to pay up for police protection provided by the Cook County sheriff’s office. In addition, the county would begin charging $4.75 for parking at the garages and lots at its six criminal courthouses. […]

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