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Cook County braces for budget cuts after sugary drink tax repeal

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said his department can't afford more cuts. (WLS)

Without the revenue from the sugary drink tax, Cook County government officials need to make budget cuts. On Wednesday, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and State's Attorney Kim Foxx said Wednesday that their departments cannot afford to make the needed cuts.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has said they need to cut 10 percent of their budgets. However, Dart and Foxx argue that cutting 10 percent of their budgets would be devastating to public safety.

"The fact that we have to have this conversation, that I have to make a case why you can't cut an already depleted office when this city is making national headlines for violence, it is illogical and reckless," Foxx said.

For the State's Attorney's Office, a 10 percent cut means losing 100 employees in an office that has already cut 25 percent in the past 10 years.

Sheriff Dart said his department has been stripped to the bone as well.

"Since I became sheriff, there's been dramatic decrease in the head count," Dart said.

However, some Cook County commissioners questioned Dart's numbers. They claim the jail population has gone down while department employees, specifically the number of managers, have gone up.

"Before we talk about cutting jail guards before we talk about the nuclear options of things, as it pertains to sheriff's office I strongly suggest they look at those management positions," said Commissioner Sean Morrison.

Dart argued he had to add certain positions because of a court ordered consent decree.

"I didn't ask for new positions. I converted existing positions. I had sit here now head count down," Dart said.

Dart did suggest other ways of making ends meet, such as video gambling, closing some branch courthouses and assuming the role of the county's forest preserve police.

"We feel it's important to have our own force," said Arnold Randall, general superintendent of the Forest Preserves District of Cook County

While all department heads are trying to protect what they have, Dart and Foxx said they are open to saving money as long as it doesn't jeopardize public safety.

Foxx suggests outsourcing her civil unit. Dart said he is open to consolidating positions with different departments.

Related Topics:
politicscook county forest preservesbudget cutscook countycook county sheriffsugary drink taxChicagoLoopCook County
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