Residents, organizations weigh in on preliminary Prepare dinner County 2024 price range

Residents and native organizations stated Tuesday that Prepare dinner County ought to proceed funding applications that deal with neighborhood violence, present take care of veterans and guarantee meals availability in subsequent yr’s price range.

Audio system expressed their priorities at a digital listening to on Prepare dinner County’s preliminary price range forecast for fiscal yr 2024, particulars of which had been launched final month.

The forecast reveals a projected hole of $85.6 million subsequent yr.

Prepare dinner County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has stated there might be no new taxes, charges or hikes of any variety to assist shut the projected hole. As a substitute, the county plans to depend on belt-tightening throughout businesses and departments.

The estimated price range gap of $85.6 million is bigger than the $18.2 million hole projected this time final yr, nevertheless it is among the county’s smallest deficits within the final decade.

Preckwinkle touted the monetary strides the county has made in her opening remarks on the listening to.

“Over the past a number of years Prepare dinner County has skilled the pandemic, cussed inflation, financial uncertainty and quite a few different international and native points,” Preckwinkle stated. “Regardless of these unprecedented circumstances, sturdy monetary administration and accountable budgeting have positioned Prepare dinner County to navigate these troublesome instances whereas offering important and equitable companies to our greater than 5 million residents.”

Audio system representing organizations just like the Better Chicago Meals Depository detailed their partnerships with the county and hoped they may proceed that collaboration subsequent yr and rely on continued funding.

“We work carefully with Prepare dinner County well being workers to alleviate starvation all through the county,” stated Hillary Caron, senior coverage adviser on the depository. “As you start the fiscal-year 2024 price range course of we urge you to proceed investing on this essential work that we’ve achieved collectively.”

Lisa Daniels, founder and government director of the Darren B. Easterling Middle for Restorative Practices — a company that helps communities impacted by gun violence and incarceration — stated the funding offered by the county drastically helps their work.

“Sustaining our influence and increasing our attain depends on the continued assist and funding offered by Prepare dinner County,” Daniels stated, including that the funding “performs a significant function in enabling us to implement and ship” the group’s applications successfully. “It helps the supply of individualized companies, making certain that every participant receives the tailor-made assist they should overcome their distinctive challenges.”

Sam Toia, president of the Illinois Restaurant Affiliation, advocated for funding of the Prepare dinner County Small Enterprise Supply, which supplies small companies with no-cost enterprise recommendation, assets and entry to occasions.

“Eating places and bars have been hit significantly arduous over the previous few years,” Toia stated. “Most eating places are going through two years of debt, larger meals prices, provide points and staffing challenges. All through all this, the Prepare dinner County Small Enterprise Supply has been a significant supply of steerage, assist and stability to 1000’s of small companies.”

John DeGroot, Veterans of International Wars service officer, stated the Veterans Help Fee of Prepare dinner County — a nonprofit that gives social companies and emergency monetary help to veterans — is in want of extra funding.

“The VACCC is extremely underfunded and understaffed,” DeGroot stated. “The price range per veteran is lower than $2.73, the place different counties common $16 per veteran.”

The anticipated price range gap subsequent yr has been largely pinned by county leaders on a giant drop in income from a enterprise revenue tax. They are saying that’s attributable to modifications in how the state doles out this cash.

The county obtained $184 million from this pot in 2022. However the county expects to obtain round $75 million subsequent yr.

Prepare dinner County commissioners usually vote on the proposed price range for the next yr in November.

Contributing: WBEZ reporter Kristen Schorsch

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