Preckwinkle tackles Palatine questions head on

April 12, 2011 4:33:10 AM PDT
The Village of Palatine's relationship with the Cook County Board has been so strained at times that village officials threatened to secede from the county.

But on Monday night, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle addressed village complaints face-to-face.

Former board president Todd Stroger actually canceled an appearance in Palatine several years ago before eventually rescheduling and facing kind of an angry crowd.

There was a relatively warm reception for Preckwinkle Monday night, but she also got a lot of questions.

The cook county board president was greeted with polite applause as she entered what at one time would have been hostile territory: Palatine council chambers.

The last time a board president was in Palatine was about three years ago when then president Stroger was greeted with skepticism and even outright hostility, mostly because of the sales tax increase that the current president has worked to rescind it.

"My understanding is that three years ago, my predecessor promised to come to a session like this and did not show up. So I wanted to make sure that I came, and was available to answer questions," Preckwinkle said.

Two years ago, Palatine voters overwhelmingly supported a symbolic measure to secede from the county.

Many residents and leaders questioned what they were getting compared to what they gave to county coffers.

"I think ultimately the residents want to know what they are getting for their money. There's a lot of mystery, so to speak, of what the county does," said Palatine resident Jim Schwantz.

"We send about $19 million to $20 million a year to the county, and I just want to know where it's going, what it's being spent on," said Jack Wagner, who is on the Palatine Council.

One study suggested that Palatine gets $2 back in services for every $7 it sends to the county but Preckwinkle disagrees.

"The county does two things, basically: it provides health care to those who are under-insured or are not insured and it runs our criminal justice system. That's where two-thirds of the money goes," Preckwinkle said.

Palatine president says talk of seceding from the county has died down quite a bit.

Preckwinkle says her visit to Palatine is part of her plan to visit all of the communities in the county. She was in Schaumburg on Sunday.

On Monday night, Preckwinkle said that she plans to return to Palatine.