Sheriff, Courts Face Cuts Amid Cook County Budget Crisis

Officials in the Illinois county must make $200 million in budget cuts. Commissioners have proposed making up a quarter of the total through hundreds of layoffs, including more than 200 each from the sheriff’s department and county court system.

Rebuked on a soda pop tax, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Monday proposed cutting $200 million through a mix of laying off midlevel managers, holding the line on raises and requiring workers to take unpaid days off, reports the Chicago Tribune. Documents showed the operations of Sheriff Tom Dart and Chief Circuit Court Judge Timothy Evans would be hit the hardest. Dart runs the Cook County Jail and a police department that patrols mostly unincorporated areas, but also provides assistance to Chicago police and some suburban departments. Evans runs the court system, the probation department and the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center. Both already are pushing back.

The county seeks to save $51 million through hundreds of layoffs, with the sheriff facing 244 layoffs and the chief judge 222, commissioners said. The biggest savings — $96.3 million — would come from a series of moves that includes delaying purchases of equipment; stepped-up enforcement of parking, cigarette and alcohol taxes; cutting justice program funding and a drug-school program for nonviolent offenders; and reduced spending on things like travel, postage, office supplies and printing. That figure also counts on holding the line on salary increases across the board.