328 Cook County employees laid off due to budget cuts, officials say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Over 300 more Cook County employees were laid off Friday due to budget cuts, ABC 7 has learned.

Officials with the Cook County Sheriff's Office said 77 people were laid off from the department, including deputies and high ranking department members.

"How devastating it is for anyone to lose their job...we're working with their unions to try and mitigate the effect of these cuts," said Cara Smith of the Cook County Sheriff's Department.

County officials said three people in the Cook County Board President's Office are being let go after choosing not to take other positions they were offered.

Five drug and alcohol counselors at Stroger Hospital also lost their jobs.

"Substance abuse counselors help people get back on their feet and get them back into the community and functioning...there will be nobody at the hospitals to offer substance abuse counseling," said Dian Palmer, of SEIU Local 73.

Over 100 employees with the Cook County Courts are part of the layoff, but a temporary court order has put those layoffs on hold.

In November, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a $5.2 billion budget that included the layoffs of 321 people and the elimination of 1,017 vacant positions to make up for the $200 million in revenue lost when the sweetened beverage tax was repealed.

A spokesperson for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle released a statement on Friday:

"When the Board unanimously approved the 2018 budget, it required more than $200 million in spending cuts to make up for repealed revenue and to meet the County's obligation of balancing its budget annually. Because approximately 80 percent of the County's spending is related to personnel costs, losing revenue and balancing the budget unfortunately meant that some County employees would be subject to layoffs this fiscal year."

A total of 328 Cook County employees were given notice on Friday.

"Taxpayers demand that we operate with efficiency and that we operate at our very best. I don't expect that there will be service disruptions, I expect for people to do the work that they've always been accustomed to doing," said Commissioner Richard Boykin.
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