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Commissioners set levy for 2016

By a 3-2 vote, the Cook County Board of Commissioners set the 2016 levy at 8.5 percent. The levy was set following months of budget discussions among the commissioners and county staff, as well as comments and opinions from the public.
The original levy proposal was set at 12 percent in late September. According to Commissioner Frank Moe, a levy increase of any figure shows progress that county commissioners are willing to work together and find middle ground on budget issues. “This is a well thought out, compromised position,” Moe said of the 8.5 percent levy. Originally, both Commissioner Moe and Commissioner Gary Gamble advocated for a zero percent increase to the levy.

Voting against the motion were Commissioners Heidi Doo-Kirk and Jan Sivertson. Doo-Kirk was most vocal in her reasoning why the levy should be higher than 8.5 percent, citing the county’s willingness to spend from its fund balance, which is essentially its savings account, as a potentially dangerous game to enter.

Doo-Kirk said unforeseen expenses in the county’s budget could force the county to dip further into its fund balance in 2016.

As it stands, the commissioners approved spending between $60,000 and $90,000 of the fund balance next year, with the understanding that amount must be paid back into the fund balance by 2017.