CHICAGO, June 27 Cook County, Illinois, is
facing a $267.5 million fiscal 2013 budget gap due to a planned
rollback of the sales tax rate and a decline in other revenue,
including patient fees at public hospitals, officials said on
The second largest county in the United States and home of
Chicago is projecting $1.98 billion in general fund revenue in
the fiscal year that begins in December and $2.25 billion in
expenditures. The funding gap is smaller than shortfalls of $487
million in fiscal 2011 and $315 million in fiscal 2012.
"This preliminary budget forecast is evidence we are making
progress, but more work needs to be done to achieve the fiscal
strength that I want on behalf of county taxpayers," Cook County
Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement.
She said the county would begin a hiring freeze for some
unfilled jobs and that it would work to reduce costs related to
The budget forecast shows sales tax revenue falling by $87.8
million due to a 25 percent rate reduction, while the health
care system is facing a $152 million shortfall. Revenue from the
county's tobacco and gasoline taxes and from court filings is
also expected to decline.
A rise in personnel costs mainly due to contractual wage
increases is helping to drive expenses higher, according to the
Last year, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings
downgraded Cook County's credit ratings, citing diminished
financial flexibility. Moody's cut the county's general
obligation rating to 'Aa3' from 'Aa2' in June 2011, and in
September 2011 Fitch cut that rating to 'AA-minus' from 'AA'.