CHICAGO (CBS) — About 100,000 people in unincorporated Cook County get a free ride when it comes to police protection, but that’s about to change if Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle gets her way.
CBS 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 Sheriff’s office.
“I think everybody should pay their fair share and there’s no reason why 98 percent of the people in the county should pay for police services for the 2 percent of the people who live in unincorporated Cook County,” Preckwinkle said after presenting her budget plan to the County Board.
She wants the 100,000 residents of unincorporated areas of the county to pay $150 per household for the police protection they now receive from the sheriff’s office.
Residents of the Glenbrook Countryside subdivision — a leafy area of vintage ranch houses near Northbrook – said they don’t like that plan one bit.
“I think we’re paying more than enough taxes in Cook County for Cook County services,” Robert Larsen said. “Including the police protection.”
Fellow Glenbrook Countryside resident John Ermel said, “Actually, right now, I believe my taxes ought to go down.”
But, unlike residents of the cities, towns and villages in the county, unincorporated areas don’t pay any municipal taxes – not for police protection, or anything else.
Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri (R-9th), who’s also mayor of Elmwood Park, said that’s unfair.
“It’s expensive to get the sheriff to go these isolated areas. I think there’s got to be a final solution,” Silvestri said. “I think the final solution is really incorporating those areas. This is an attempt to get towards that, I think.”
The proposed $150 per household charge would produce $5.5 million for the county coffers.
But, as Silvestri said, it’s also a not-so-gentle nudge to persuade those unincorporated areas to join a nearby suburb or village.
Laurence Msall, President of the non-partisan Civic Federation, agreed. He said it’s high time for unincorporated residents to pay up for county sheriff’s protection.