October 30, 2017
With a projected $200 million loss in revenue for fiscal year 2018 due to the recent repeal of the sweetened beverage tax, the Cook County Board of Commissioners and County Agency officials now must identify ways to balance the budget without the expected funding. The Civic Federation encourages the County Board of Commissioners to approach the FY2018 budget with a long-term perspective. The County must not use this crisis as an excuse to use gimmicks and one-time revenue sources to balance the FY2018 budget.
The Civic Federation cautions Cook County to NOT cut pension funding for easy short-term relief to the revenue crisis. In the Board President’s FY2018 budget recommendation, extra funding was allocated for pensions beyond the statutorily required pension amount for the third year. Diverting those funds to balance the budget instead would be short-sighted and ill-advised. The additional pension contributions have been well received by credit rating agencies. Reducing the pension allocation could lead to credit downgrades that would increase the cost of borrowing.
Areas the Civic Federation believes merit further exploration for potential cost savings are:
- Revise collective bargaining agreements;
- Implement the Health System’s proposed reductions to the FY2018 budget recommendation and explore additional opportunities for savings in the Health System;
- Eliminate the unincorporated area subsidy;
- Create a unified property tax administration office;
- Assess opportunities for jail cost reductions; and
- Explore other reforms such as streamlining administrative functions.