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updated: 3/15/2011 6:18 PM

Preckwinkle accepts Palatine's invitation to discuss county services

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  • Toni Preckwinkle

      Toni Preckwinkle

 

Just as her predecessor did, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will meet with Palatine leaders at an upcoming public meeting to discuss county services -- only expect her reception to be a bit warmer.

Preckwinkle's office called Palatine Councilman Jack Wagner to accept the village's invitation, which officials extended in an effort to learn how the county spends the millions Palatine taxpayers send each year.

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"She's willing to come to a council meeting," Wagner said. "I just want an account of where the money goes, but we'll find out. Let's give her benefit of the doubt to explain this."

Preckwinkle likely won't face the firing squad the way former President Todd Stroger did in summer 2008 when he spoke to packed Harper College auditorium.

Angry residents, business owners and elected officials took turns criticizing the 1 percentage point sales tax increase that Stroger implemented, saying it would disproportionately hurt a border community like Palatine.

The village has seen a decrease in sales tax revenue since the hike, though some of the decline is due to the economic downturn.

State Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, said at the time Palatine gets about $2 back for every $7 it sends to Cook County. Wagner puts the total amount Palatine sends at $19 million to $20 million.

Preckwinkle spokeswoman Jessey Neves said the visit isn't unique, as she's fulfilled her pledge of visiting all 17 county districts by Wednesday -- her 100th day in office.

"The president is committed to going outside the city because local municipalities know their issues the best," Neves said.

Wagner has been a longtime supporter of exploring the possibility of Palatine seceding from Cook County, and Preckwinkle's appearance likely will spark yet another conversation about the issue if officials aren't placated.

Whatever the outcome, Wagner said he appreciates Preckwinkle's willingness to engage in a dialogue.

"I've got to say, that she's a woman but she's a standup guy to do that," Wagner said.

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