After an all-day meeting, the Cook County Board early Friday evening approved the county's 2012 budget by a vote of 16-1.
The $2.9 billion spending plan includes 775 county employee layoffs, higher sin and luxury taxes on products like alcohol and cigarettes, plus a new $4.75-per-day fee for parking at suburban and city criminal courthouses, excluding jurors and law enforcement officers. The plan is expected to close a $315 million budget hole, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle thanked her colleagues "for approving a comprehensive and forward thinking budget that incorporates key structural changes to County operations and makes significant investments in public health and public safety" in a statement issued Friday. The number of layoffs included in the budget are fewer than the more than 1,000 originally slated to be made.
"The spirit of compromise and collaboration that allowed us to pass this budget will continue in the weeks and months ahead as we continue to address the challenges that face Cook County," Preckwinkle continued.
The lone county commissioner to oppose the plan was William Beavers.
The budget will include the increased county tax on wholesale alcohol, which some bar owners opposed. As proposed, the county's cigarette tax will be newly expanded to include other products including cigars, loose tobacco and rolling papers. The budget also calls for doubling the cost of vehicle stickers for individuals living in unincorporated Cook County and increasing the amount of tax the county collects from the sale of cars, boats and trailers, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Still left up in the air with Friday's budget vote, however, is the issue of whether union workers will agree to taking eight unpaid days off in order to avoid an additional 500 layoffs, as WBEZ reports.
Anders Lindall, spokesman for Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, told the Chicago News Cooperative explained his union opposed the plan because "a pay cut is a pay cut no matter how you dress it up." He called the proposal a nonstarter from the union's perspective.