Cook County administrator analyzes 2023 legislative session, shares CIP update
WTIP file photo

Cook County administrator analyzes 2023 legislative session, shares CIP update

Local government officials in Cook County largely celebrated the 2023 legislative session in terms of more money arriving from the state. However, there are some additional expenses for the county that will result from legislation passed during the session, including in the form of paid family and medical leave for county employees, according to County Administrator James Joerke.

With the end of the 2023 legislative session, local government in Cook County will also receive a funding boost in the following areas:

–More than $675,000 for the county program aid, an increase of nearly $160,000;

–Cook County PILT payments from the state will increase more than $210,000 increase;

–Cook County Public Safety Aid: $ 179,095.

Listen to the audio below to hear an interview with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs and Joerke discussing the 2023 legislative session and how it will impact local government in Cook County.

In other news from the county, local officials could spend nearly $30 million over the next several years updating buildings and other property the county owns.

The public can now review the fine print for the first time after the county released draft documents for its Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) earlier this month.

Over the next five years, the county anticipates spending between $13.4 million and $30 million to upgrade building systems that are nearing or have exceeded their expected lifetimes, according to Commissioner Stacey Hawkins. If approved, the county would essentially take out loans, most often referred to as bonds in county documents, to pay for the facility upgrades and changes, she said. These loans, Hawkins said during a recent interview with WTIP, would be paid back using local taxpayer dollars.

The money spent on the project would include things like water heaters and plumbing fixtures, along with updated floors, walls, and ceilings. Other plans could include repairing or replacing windows and doors, and exterior finishes on county-owned buildings. The CIP will also include plans for addressing a shortage of workspaces for deputies, garage bay space, and space for evidence processing and storage in the law enforcement center. There will also be a plan to address a shortage of office space in the courthouse.

Joerke says that the main goals in updating the CIP are to increase the reliability of building systems and to reduce long-term operating costs.

“The county has deferred building maintenance to the point that our maintenance staff are always working reactively and struggling to keep up with equipment failures. Too often we run equipment to the point of failure and pay a premium to replace it on short notice,” Joerke said. “By catching up on deferred maintenance and adopting regular equipment replacement schedules, we can operate and maintain our buildings in a more predictable and cost-effective way that will benefit county taxpayers.”