WTIP file photo

County board sets preliminary levy at 4.5 percent

Zoning issues, commissioner salaries, the local lodging tax and the 2022 budget were among the key talking points during a busy meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Sept. 14.

During this week’s meeting, the commissioners agreed to set the 2022 preliminary levy at an increase of 4.5 percent from 2021. The levy can decrease after the preliminary figure is set, but it cannot exceed the 4.5 percent mark that was approved unanimously by the commissioners.

In a detailed document prepared by County Administrator James Joerke for the commissioners ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, the recommendation was to set the levy at 3.92 percent. Joerke compiled the document based on budgets presented from various departments at the county and other expenses for local government in 2022.

There was a lengthy discussion about setting the preliminary levy at or near five percent in order to allow for flexibility with spending within local government for next year, including a pay raise for the commissioners that was discussed by Board Chair Dave Mills. Other items that could impact if the levy were to go down before the end of the year include funding for local arts organizations, based on discussion from Tuesday’s board meeting.

Also regarding the 2022 budget, a Truth in Taxation meeting was set for Dec. 7.

In other news from Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners opted to endorse Visit Cook County’s request for state legislative approval to renew the 1 percent lodging tax.

The board also voted to approve requests for two land use issues, including a dog kennel near County Road 14 and a set of rustic cabins near the Superior Hiking Trail on the west end of the county.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Joerke on Sept. 15 for an update on the latest news in county government. Audio below.