STAY UP TO DATE
CONNECT WITH SEAN
Chicago, IL – Cook County Commissioner Sean M. Morrison has submitted an amendment today to close the $22.5 million budget gap faced by Cook County in its FY2016 budget. The proposed amendment will allow for $22,500,000 of discretionary revenue to be allocated to cover the shortfall in the proposed FY2016 Cook County budget.
Commissioner Morrison’s amendment comes in response to four newly proposed taxes which are intended to provide even more taxpayer dollars to the county beyond the recent 1% sales tax increase. The four newly proposed taxes are: Hotel Tax, Ticket Resellers/Brokers Tax, E-Cigarette & E-Vapor Tax, and a Firearm Ammunition Tax.
“I’m unequivocally opposed to all four taxes. My amendment would fund nearly one quarter of a billion dollars in an additional payment to the county pension fund and we would not have to burden the citizens and businesses of Cook County with more taxes which would be in addition to the unpopular sales tax increase passed just four months ago,” stated Morrison.
Commissioner Morrison has submitted his proposal to amend Item #15-6279 (before the Finance Committee tomorrow Friday, November 13th) which is the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (“IGA”) with the Cook County Pension Fund for FY2016 that would authorize the county’s Chief Financial Officer to disburse $248,026,000 instead of a suggested $270,526,000 in additional discretionary funds to the pension fund. This additional payment would be on top of Cook County’s Actual/Statutory Contribution of $195M.
The discretionary revenue allocated in the proposed IGA will come from the $310 million projected to be generated and collected from the 1% sales tax increase passed in July. “It’s imperative that we operate within the budget and revenue we have and that’s why I believe it makes good fiscal sense to utilize $22.5 million of discretionary funds to close the budget hole instead of adding four more taxes onto the county rolls,” concluded Morrison.
CHICAGO – Cook County (Illinois Review) – like the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois – has a budget problem. The governments are spending more than they’re taking in. Instead of focusing on where to cut, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is focused on finding places where she can pull in more revenue.
She’s placed a recommendation for a new tax of one penny per round of rimfire, and five cents per round for centerfire cartridges. Commissioner Richard Boykin (1st District) is sponsoring the tax hike.
The proposed ammo tax is in addition to tax hikes on hotels, e-cigarettes and event ticket brokers, reportedly to close the a $22.5 million shortage in Illinois’ largest county’s 2016 $4.5 billion budget.
At least one Cook County Commissioner is adamantly opposed to the proposed tax.
Sean Morrison, who represents the 17th Cook County District, told Illinois Review over the weekend, “No, I am not for this tax, nor any tax!”
“And to be clear, I will not be voting in support of this,” Morrison said. “In fact, I have and will be actively attempting to convince my commissioner colleagues that this is a bad idea on so many levels.”
Morrison, who recently was appointed to succeed retiring commissioner Liz Gorman, said he intends to submit an amendment of his own for consideration.
It will be an amendment that will allow the county to close the $22,500,000.00 budget shortfall and balance the 2016 budget, Morrison said.
Morrison says his proposal would allow the county to move forward and make an extremely significant ‘additional payment’ of $438 million to pay down the pension fund shortage over the next four to five years by using the revenue generated by the Cook County sales tax increase.
“If the board will commit to making similar payments over the next four to five years, we can have the massive pension shortfall corrected. Combined with additional operating efficiencies we are currently putting in place will eventually allow us to use those revenue funds for other areas, but only and after we bring the pension arrears back into the black,” Morrison said.
“That, in my opinion, is a responsible fiscal budget plan.”
The Republican from southwestern Palos Park will face a stiff uphill battle to convince the Democrat-controlled board to consider his plan. He said it will take pressure from organizations and taxpayers on their county board commissioners to stay the tax hikes and consider his budget ideas.
Palos Township Republican Committeeman Sean Morrison was elected and sworn in Wednesday to Cook County Commissioner Elizabeth “Liz” Doody Gorman’s 17th District seat on the County Board.
Gorman last week announced her resignation from the County Board to take a job in the private sector.
The selection of longtime Gorman ally Morrison to succeed her was made Wednesday at an election meeting of 17th District Republican township committeemen that Gorman scheduled at Hackney’s restaurant in Palos Park.
The GOP committeeman of Orland Township, Gorman and Morrison had nearly 50 percent of the weighted vote of GOP committeemen of townships located wholly or partly within the 17th District, including Lyons, Bremen, Worth, Lemont, Proviso and Maine townships. Each committeeman’s weighted vote is a percentage of the total number of GOP ballots cast in each township in the 17th District in the last election.
Gorman served nearly 13 years representing the 17th District of suburban Cook County.She was first elected in 2002 after defeating fellow Republican incumbent Herb Schumann in the primary election. She went on to win four terms, winning easily against Democratic challengers in the solid Republican 17th District. She leaves office early in her fourth term.
Gorman will retain her elective partisan post as Orland Township Republican committeeman.
Gorman and Morrison are long political allies whose organizations have worked together to organize elaborate, well-attended Palos-Orland-Worth GOP summer picnics, especially in even-numbered election years, and try to elect GOP hopefuls to office, seeing their share of wins and defeats.
Gov. Rauner racked up large margins of in both Orland and Palos townships in last November’s election with Gorman and Morrison’s avid support. In Palos Township, Rauner received 60 percent of the vote against the Democratic loser, Gov. Quinn. The two are now backing Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan, of Palos Heights, recently announced candidate for the GOP nomination to run for the Cook County Board of Review 1st District seat held by Wheeling Township Republican Dan Patlak in the 2016 primary election, Gorman said. With their support, Brannigan fought a losing battle to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep Dan Lipinski last November.
Morrison was named Palos Township Republican committeeman in 2012, succeeding Lee Roupas. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination to run for the Cook County Board of Review seat won that November by Republican nominee Dan Patlak. In another election, his Palos Township slate of trustee candidates fared better, winning a clean sweep of trustee seats on the Palos town board, the first time Brannigan was elected to public office.
A businessman, Morrison is the founder and CEO of Morrison Security, Inc. headquartered in Alsip. He and his wife, Lora, live in Palos Park. They have two children.
It was from the floor of the Cook County boardroom during a special county board meeting Wednesday last week that Gorman announced her departure from public office, she said in a release. Her letter of resignation was formally submitted that day to County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “It has been an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of the 17th District for nearly 13 years on this distinguished body,” Gorman wrote. “It has also been a pleasure to serve with you, our board colleagues and staff. My years of service on the Cook County Board of Commissioners have been some of the most rewarding of my life.”
Gorman is leaving public service to take a job at a Fortune 100 company that she declined to name last week. She said she will serve in the Chicago office as the director of local and state operations.
Gorman’s office said she has been a strong advocate for tax reform, fiscal responsibility, budget and operational efficiencies especially in the area of new technology. “Commissioner Gorman has also worked hard for greater transparency throughout Cook County government and for making the Forest Preserve District a national leader in the areas of recreation, restoration and conservation,” the release added.
Friday, March 13, 2015
by Mike Nolan
A Cook County commissioner from the Southland wants to see more police officers equipped with a drug that can prevent heroin overdoses.
Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman, R-Orland Park, introduced a resolution that was adopted by the county board Wednesday, calling for police and other first responders to be trained in the use of Naloxone, also known as Narcan, when they encounter a person exhibiting signs of an overdose of opioids, such as heroin.
Fire department paramedics have long had access to Narcan, but police officers cannot, by law, carry the drug or administer it without training and approval from qualified medical personnel.
Will County last summer approved a program to train police officers in using Narcan, which is a nasal spray, and Orland Park police are also being equipped and trained in using it.
In 2013, opioid abuse led to 383 deaths in Cook County, and 234 were related to heroin overdoses, according to Gorman’s office.
Paramedics with the Orland Fire Protection District have used Narcan on “numerous occasions,” with an annual peak of 50-plus doses reached a couple of years ago, Fire Chief Ken Brucki said.
“We have seen a reduction in the number of cases” in recent years, but that number “is still staggering,” he said.
Having police able to administer the drug would be a benefit because they’re on the streets and often “can get there (a medical call) ahead of us,” Brucki said.
He said that a delay of even a minute or two in administering the drug can make the difference in saving a life.
Sledding enthusiasts won’t be able to zoom down the 100-foot slope at Swallow Cliff Woods nearPalos Park this winter, but officials of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County said they’re working to build a “new and improved” recreation area there. Winter events offer alternative to hibernation“It’s a site that’s being heavily used for recreation and fitness, so we’re trying to enhance that and keep it one of our premier recreation sites,” said Chris Slattery, the forest preserves director of planning and development.
Changes will include making the sledding area less steep, adding another set of stairs and constructing a new warming shelter.
The new shelter is under construction and should be completed by June, Slattery said. At about 3,000 square feet, it will be larger than the old shelter with a fireplace, concessions, meeting room, bathrooms and an outdoor patio and fire pit, he said.
For the fitness enthusiasts who climb the preserve’s 125 stairs year-round, district officials plan to add a second set of stairs on the right side of the hill, creating a loop that should eliminate some of the up-and-down traffic, Slattery said.
“Especially on the weekends during the summer, it’s so packed it’s ridiculous,” said Kevin McGreal, of Orland Park, who was finishing a 45-minute stair session Monday evening and said he hits the Swallow Cliff stairs a couple times a week, often with family. “I think it’s a great idea.”
But some of the changes will tame the thrills of Swallow Cliff, which currently has a steeper grade than other forest preserve sledding hills, and may disappoint sledding enthusiasts with a need for speed.
Swallow Cliff Woods, at 11918 S. La Grange Rd., used to feature toboggan runs that ran from the bluff’s peak to base, but they were “a bit of a hazard” and closed in 2004, at least in part due to safety concerns, Slattery said.
Until this winter, people could still sled on the hill, though only from a little more than halfway up. But once the toboggan chutes and their supports were removed, the hill began eroding, Slattery said.
To stabilize it, the district needs to regrade the slope to a gentler incline, Slattery said. The district also will add a platform marking the official starting line, still midway up the hill. The hill likely will be closed for sledding next winter too.
“I know that’s part of the thrill, but since the chutes were removed, it just isn’t stable. Making it a little less steep will help keep it from eroding,” Slattery said, explaining the changes weren’t just about safety.
The hill is in bad enough shape that the district closed it to sledding this winter, even though construction on the hill and new stairs likely won’t start until spring, Slattery said.
When the district sought input on the upgrades in 2013, there was talk of eventually adding an alpine slide that would allow year-round riding. Slattery said they’ve put that idea — floated after a few mild winters when there was rarely enough snow for sledding — on hold because it would require getting rid of the sledding hill.
“We want to see how popular the renovated hill is before we go there and see what happens to the climate,” he said.
All of the preserves features, including the new stairs and sledding hill, should be ready to open in 2016, Slattery said.
In the meantime, officials are directing sledding enthusiasts to nearby Pioneer Woods, at 9966 W. 107th St. in Willow Springs, with a sledding hill that opened Jan. 4.
118 N. Clark Street, Suite 567
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Phone : 312-603-4215
15040 Ravinia Ave, Suite 44
Orland Park, Illinois 60462