Cook County approves 2013 budget

By an overwhelming 16 to 1 vote, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved a $2.95 billion dollar budget for 2013. 

The only dissenting vote came from Commissioner William Beavers, staunch ally to former Board President Todd

In sharp contrast to the rancorous budget battles under Stroger, today's vote and efforts to streamline the budget moved forward with a spirit of cooperation.

"I want to thank the commissioners for their hard work," said President Toni Preckwinkle.  "This was a collaborative effort."

Both Republican and Democratic commissioners stood to applaud Preckwinkle as she adjourned the meeting.

A new $1 tax hike on cigarettes, a $25 dollar levy on the sale of guns and new taxes on the owners of gambling machines are all part of the effort to make up a $267 million dollar budget shortfall.  But the new and increased taxes are expected to generate just over $41 million dollars. 

Preckwinkle said that the vast majority of the gap was closed with cost savings throughout the Cook County.  Vacant positions were eliminated, county facilities have been consolidated and energy conservation efforts have all combined to balance the budget, according to the commissioners.