Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle can't quantify the total value of services provided to Palatine, comment on the Quentin Road project particulars or opine on the possibility of shared snowplowing services -- at least not yet.
But on one message Preckwinkle is firm: Palatine stands to gain nothing by breaking away from Cook County.
"In four years from now if you think my team and I have failed you in providing good governance, then maybe that's something we should talk about. But give us an opportunity to provide good governance," Preckwinkle said, noting the practice was lacking in the prior administration.
Preckwinkle, who admits she's still getting up to speed on village activities since taking office in December, appeared before a packed and appreciative audience Monday at the village council meeting to address officials' concerns that Palatine doesn't see enough return on the roughly $20 million it sends the county.
She said two-thirds of the county budget goes to health care and criminal justice, which Northwest suburban residents use as evidenced by the 11,000 annual patient visits to the county health clinic in Palatine, as well as the inmates housed at Cook County jail.
Preckwinkle also said the region's vast forest preserves -- which make up 11 percent of the county -- are far more accessible to suburbanites than Chicagoans, though the taxes to both groups are the same.
Preckwinkle's reception proved much different from her predecessor's in the summer of 2008 at Harper College.
Whereas Preckwinkle enjoyed frequent applause during her 40-minute appearance as she outlined steps she's taken to cut the deficit and increase accountability, former President Todd Stroger faced jeers and criticism from residents, business owners and elected officials bitter over the 1 percentage point tax increase he had just implemented.
Since the hike, Palatine has seen a decrease in the sales tax as shoppers have headed to Lake County, though officials say the economy is partly to blame.
Palatine Councilman Scott Lamerand, who along with Councilman Jack Wagner has been the strongest proponent of exploring the possibility of secession, said he's still uncertain Palatine gets its money's worth. But he likes what he's seen from Preckwinkle in the way of budget cuts and cleaning house and is willing to sit on the issue for a while.
"Giving her a chance to establish good governance based on how her first 100 days have been run seems only fair," Lamerand said. "Before, there wasn't a dialogue (with Stroger), but now it seems we are being heard."