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17th District, Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison proposes financial remedy for local governments who face revenue shortfall from delayed second installment of property taxes
April 1, 2022 - A very real financial crisis could soon hit every government taxing body in Cook County. That’s because the Cook County Assessor’s Office could delay the second installment of the Cook County Real Estate Taxes up to six months and possibly into the first quarter of 2023. This delay in over $16 billion dollars in second half bills will force local government bodies to either draw down their reserves or borrow money with interest. This will have a massive financial impact on our municipalities, school districts, fire protection districts, police departments, park districts, public libraries, and everything in between.
Over seven months ago during county budget hearings, I raised the alarm of the likelihood of late tax installments and the effect they will have regarding the delay in the process of property tax certifications – due to the dramatically diminished amount of files being processed at that time. Aside from communications from Board of Review Commissioner Tammy Wendt’s office, my questions and communications were largely ignored from the various stakeholders.
Subsequently, I sent a letter in January 2022 requesting a special hearing of the finance committee to address this ominous issue. I was advised via letter, the issue is being addressed by a policy group under the Office of the President along with members of the Assessor’s office, Board of Review, County Clerk and Treasurer’s Office. I received no other actionable response on this item!
I, along with the public, have now learned via “the news media” that tax bills will be delayed up to six months or more. If these news reports are accurate, this will lead to local government taxing bodies across Cook County being forced to borrow funds to cover their pre-budgeted operating costs.
If this financial catastrophe occurs and Cook County is faced with a substantial delay in the release of tax revenues to local government bodies, then Cook County government should consider stepping in to address this issue.
Until such point in time as those stakeholders whose primary function is to provide for the on-time delivery of our property tax bill correct this problem, I have one immediate solution. Cook County government should consider setting aside up to $100 million dollars to provide for no/low interest short-term financing loans to our local taxing bodies.
I re-issue my call to convene a special finance committee meeting to address the looming financial crisis facing our local taxing bodies in Cook County.
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Commissioner Sean Morrison calls for end to Cook County's COVID Mandate & Restrictions
Orland Park, IL - Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison sent a letter to President Toni Preckwinkle calling for an end to the Cook County COVID Mandate & Restrictions - following the letter from Chicago’s five Catholic High Schools urging Mayor Lightfoot to modify the Chicago’s COVID restrictions on schools and children.
STATUS UPDATE: Cook County COVID Mandate & Restrictions
Commissioner Sean Morrison's Statement on PRESIDENT PRECKWINKLE'S NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS FOR COOK COUNTY
Orland Park, IL (12/23/21) - Today, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced an overly aggressive order placed upon private sector business and employees in Cook County. I strongly oppose this approach as technically written/read, the order from Cook County's Department of Public Health (CCDPH), an office under the President of the Board Toni Preckwinkle, places a burdensome mandate on all private sector businesses to force vaccinations of all employees in order to maintain their employment.
17th District, Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison's Statement ON ILLINOIS Appellate COURT’S RULING TO RELEASE Jussie Smollett
Orland Park, IL — For the Appellate Court to let Jussie Smollett walk out the door yesterday, pending his appeal, is appalling. Once again, Cook County citizens are left questioning the competence and integrity of our judiciary after repeatedly being misled by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, and exposed to her gross incompetence, and failure to perform the duties of her elected office.
The sentence handed down last week was fair and equitable, considering the gravity and calculated nature of Mr. Smollett’s exploits in his hate crime hoax. The Appellate Court’s ruling demonstrates the recurrent failures of our judicial system. Whether it is the Appellate Court or State’s Attorney Kim Foxx — public safety and holding those convicted of crimes accountable for their lawlessness, is disregarded. Most importantly, these misguided rulings and decisions come at a steep cost to the people of Cook County — and that cost is their safety and tax dollars.
It is my view Jussie Smollett, yet again, received "celebrity treatment" by the Cook County legal system caused by political pressure and influence, and a lackluster acting performance by Smollett himself. Not only does this decision further diminish the integrity of our legal institutions — it will also only serve to draw-out this embarrassment even further and provide a platform for Mr. Smollett to continue his delusional re-scripting of the truth with disparaging lies to avoid accountability for his despicable actions.
Mr. Smollett should serve out his brief 150-day sentence so the citizens of Cook County can finally close the book on this shameful chapter. Never forget this important fact — this entire fiasco began when Jussie Smollett made the disgraceful decision to orchestrate a hate crime hoax, which was further perpetuated when the political backroom dealing and cover-up by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was exposed to the public. The Smollett/Foxx attempt to gaslight the people of Cook County and re-write the facts of this case will not change that.
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
17th District, Cook County Commissioner Sean Morrison's Statement ON THE Jussie Smollett Sentencing & KIM FOXX’S RESPONSE
Orland Park, IL — On Thursday, March 10, 2022, actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in Cook County Jail in connection to a staged hate crime that occurred in Chicago on January 29, 2019. Cook County Judge, James Linn ordered Smollett to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the City of Chicago, fined Smollett $25,000, and sentenced him to 30-months of felony probation. Smollett will begin his sentence immediately.
Commissioner Morrison believes the sentence from Judge Lin was fair and equitable, considering the gravity and calculated nature of Mr. Smollett’s exploits. His carefully crafted hate crime hoax caused the Chicago Police Department to utilize numerous personnel and extensive hours of investigation. Smollett’s attempt to besmirch Chicago residents and the City of Chicago should come with a steep cost.
This case has received international attention and cast the City of Chicago, Cook County, and its residents in a negative light. It took more than three years and a special prosecutor's investigation to bring this case to a resolution. The special prosecutor's investigation made clear that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx is culpable in this detestable fiasco.
“Instead of holding Jussie Smollett accountable for devising a hate crime hoax, breaking the law, disregarding law enforcement officials and their time, and wasting taxpayer resources — Kim Foxx opted to use the authority of her elected office to provide favors for a political ally, and mislead the public, the press, and facilitate a cover-up for a politically connected celebrity. Had Kim Foxx done her job and properly executed her elected duties, we wouldn’t be in this position today, over three years later... It’s beyond disgraceful.”
“Kim Foxx could have accepted the facts and outcome of this case and taken responsibility for her role in this embarrassing saga, Instead, she chose to double-down with her latest delusional public response to the Smollett sentencing. Her detachment from reality is alarming and exposes a level of incompetence that is startling to Cook County residents, and residents across the State of Illinois.”
“For the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney to regain the trust of Cook County residents — competence, professional integrity, and accountability must be restored. Kim Foxx has repeatedly demonstrated that she has a total disregard for these important leadership qualities, and I once again call on Kim Foxx to resign from the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney, effective immediately.”
Another targeted shooting of police officers in Chicago just took place. This violent climate has been exacerbated by the vilification and lack of support given to law enforcement by many elected leaders. Enough is enough! It’s time for our elected leaders to recognize the severity of this out of control violence, and the vital need to support our law enforcement. We all have a moral imperative to do so. The targeting of police officers cannot be allowed to continue. — Commissioner Sean Morrison
CHICAGO TRIBUNE – JUNE 24, 2021 | By Alice Yin
A proposed resolution to temporarily hand Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office more control of $1 billion in anticipated federal aid was sent to a committee Thursday for fine-tuning after commissioners raised fears of being cut out of how the stimulus funds would be spent.
Under the latest round of federal coronavirus recovery funding, Cook County was awarded the package, half of which has arrived in coffers already, to be used by the end of 2024 for public health, economic growth, infrastructure, revenue loss and more. Preckwinkle’s legislation would give her budget director latitude to move any American Rescue Plan Act funds under $1 million; beyond that, the director would need approval from Preckwinkle’s chief financial officer, according to the language, which gives a deadline of Dec. 31 for the enhanced powers.
Though there was scant objection to moving the legislation to the Finance Committee during Thursday’s Board of Commissioners meeting, some board members earlier requested Preckwinkle’s staff to pause a direct approval vote out of concern that the language sidesteps their authority, Commissioner Larry Suffredin said. Her team agreed, he said, though Preckwinkle told reporters Thursday the resolution as written does not bypass the county board’s approval.
“Just a second. That’s not true,” Preckwinkle said in a call with reporters when asked about the commissioners’ issues. “What will happen is that the ways in which we allocate the resources into specific budgets will be approved by the Board of Commissioners. This is not an end-around our Board of Commissioners.”
But some commissioners saw it differently. Suffredin, an Evanston Democrat, and Commissioner Bridget Degnen, a Chicago Democrat, said they approached Preckwinkle’s staff earlier this week seeking to lower the $1 million ceiling and require county board approval for anything above that. Degnen said she is calling for a $500,000 threshold.
“I went last night with Degnen to them and said, ‘This isn’t ready for prime time yet. And why do you want to have a battle today over language that we can work out?’” Suffredin said.
But because Preckwinkle’s team acquiesced to delaying a direct vote, he added, “We’re all fundamentally in a spot where we’ll work out this language. … This resolution I would say is not intentionally misleading, but it’s not artfully drafted.”
Commissioner Sean Morrison, a Republican from Palos Park, is more suspicious. He said he was alarmed that Preckwinkle’s administration would ask commissioners to sign away their authority without concrete details on where the money is going.
Preckwinkle’s office did give a wide-ranging slideshow during Thursday’s board meeting on their priorities for the $1 billion, which Morrison said was a “nice, pretty, multicolored presentation, but there’s nothing to it.”
“We’re getting basically ($1 billion), of which they want to be able to have carte blanche up to a million… and then an undetermined and basically unending amount of money if people sign off on it,” Morrison said. “That’s just a bridge way too far.”
Morrison and Degnen were the two commissioners who repeatedly voted “no” on a similar resolution extending Preckwinkle’s budget director’s powers to move stimulus funds from April 2020 for a year after the passage of the federal CARES Act.
“I have long held that the way that our governance in Cook County is gives the board authority over spending as well,” Degnen said. “It’s important that we have the checks and balances.”
Preckwinkle said the goal of the resolution was to address immediate needs such as hiring employees over the next several months to monitor ARPA expenditures, but the bulk of the money would be folded into the 2022 fiscal year budget that requires the county board’s approval.
Her staffers’ presentation on Thursday outlined goals for the money that prioritized social services they said would most benefit “marginalized and Black and brown communities,” though no exact numbers or specific programs were mentioned. The briefing also called for at least four months of “stakeholder engagement” and an executive leadership council that would contain members of the Office of the President, who would help guide decisions on the $1 billion.
“We have our work cut out for us, undoubtedly, but I’m confident that we’ll be putting forward a thoughtful and comprehensive plan with some important and transformative ideas,” Preckwinkle said.
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