Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today ordered a 5 percent spending reduction for the rest of this year as she tries to get a hold of what she estimates will be a $315 million shortfall next year.
The short-term cut is a response to what Preckwinkle says is a $116 million hole in the current budget. About $96 million comes from the county's independent health and hospitals system.
To fill that hole, Preckwinkle ordered the 5 percent across-the-board cut in non-personnel expenses such as office supplies or contracts.
The news came as Preckwinkle unveiled a preliminary budget of $3.2 billion next year. She attributed the $315 million shortfall partly to the health system's failure to put in place a new physician and patient billing system, and the state backlog of Medicaid bills.
But the deficit also is tied to the rollback of former Board President Todd Stroger’s sales tax increase. Cutting back the increase cost the county about $53 million in revenue. Other factors include the increased cost of elections next year and a reduction in one-time revenues sources, such as one-time collection of delinquent debt.
“We’re going to see a significant decline in revenues next year,” Preckwinkle said. She added that she has no doubts that rolling back Stroger’s unpopular sales tax was still the right thing to do despite the financial impact.
The county is expected see a decrease in spending next year, Preckwinkle said. A public budget hearing will be held Aug. 25.