Cook County projects $218.2 million gap in 2025 budget

Citing rising payroll costs, the impact of inflation and an increase in pension funding, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is projecting a $218.2 million gap in next year’s budget.

However, officials say the county is on track to end the current budget year with a $142 million surplus in its general fund, the result of factors including longer hiring time frames that save on personnel costs and higher-than-anticipated interest rates leading to additional sales tax and investment income.

“Years of hard work and tough decisions have put us in a strong fiscal position,” Preckwinkle said Wednesday in an announcement of the preliminary forecast for Fiscal Year 2025. “Despite a pandemic and fiscal challenges, we’ve protected pensions, expanded equity programming, improved our bond ratings, managed pandemic relief wisely and closed nearly $1 billion in budget gaps without raising taxes.” ​

Officials noted that the projected gap is significantly lower than the $409.6 million shortfall the county faced in 2021 and that the county hospital system projects no deficits next year, a first since at least 2010.

The report released Tuesday night includes a projection of year-end revenues and expenses for the 2024 fiscal year and a projection of 2025 revenues and expenses for the general fund and health enterprise fund, the county’s two major operating funds.

Expenses in the general fund are expected to be $271.6 million above the 2024 adjusted budget due to increases in personnel costs, inflation’s impact on the cost for goods and services procured by the county, rising health costs and a $35.7 million increase in the county’s pension payment, officials said.

Higher-than-expected revenues partially offset the projected expenditure increases, bringing the total expected shortfall to $218.2 million, officials said.

A virtual public hearing on the preliminary forecast will take place at 6 p.m. July 17. Residents will have an opportunity to provide testimony and engage with Preckwinkle’s office on their budget priorities.

Residents also will be able to submit budget questions at

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