08/09/2011 12:58 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2011

Cook County Budget Deficit: New Site Asks Residents How They Would Fix Budget Shortfall

How would you fix Cook County’s $315 million budget shortfall? An interactive “Budget” section launched Tuesday on the Cook County government website lets residents take the county’s $3.1 billion budget into their own hands by adjusting current revenue and expenditure allocations to tweak the deficit total.

For example, by sliding the “government funding” bar down to half its current size and tripling the sales tax, the budget would be fixed! With the “Tell Toni” page, one can submit those suggestions to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who will review them before the preliminary budget hearing August 25.

The county’s crowdsourcing budget page is a more elegant echo of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s site for calling for solutions to the city’s deficit, launched in late July. Its cartoonish pages were quickly flooded with suggestions ranging from landscaping cutbacks to making Chicago sports teams fund their own CPD security details.

The county’s budget page provides a comprehensive profile of 15-year financial trends, including rising personnel costs, shortfalls in health patient billing and cutbacks in revenue-generating tax programs. Its launch comes on the heels of Preckwinkle’s announcement that, for the first time in the county’s history, budget-to-actual spending numbers will be published on a quarterly basis to track progress and maintain accountability. The site is intended to encourage residents to engage with this new flood of data.

What do you think? Tell us--and Toni--about your tweaks in the comments.