Board Prez cand Tom Tresser (G) Announces 10% Solution for Reforming Cook County Government Reduces Property Taxes

Tom Tresser

Tom Tresser

Tresser Promises to Launch “COOK COUNTY 2.0” Initiative

At the Cook County Board President’s candidate’s forum at the Union League Club, Green Party candidate Tom Tresser announced his plan to reduce taxpayer’s property tax bill by ten percent over four years.

“My pledge to the taxpayers of Cook County is to reform our government to save you money while serving you better,” Tresser said.

“My plan is to create a special “Cook County 2.0” commission composed of academics, reformers and experts and charge them with looking at every aspect of county governance and operations and to come up with an agenda to reduce overlapping jurisdictions, waste, duplication of services and structural inefficiencies,” says Tresser. “There are over 1,400 taxing bodies in this county. It’s insane and a massive waste of our tax dollars – and it’s all thanks to the Democratic Machine.”

The “Ten Percent Solution” and The Cook County 2.0 reforms will call for major re-working and streamlining of Cook County government and a shift in attitude to delivering innovative and world class customer service. The plan calls for:

(1)   Conducting a forensic audit on all aspects of county operations and contracting to weed out fraud and waste. “By estimates of the Better Government Association, Cook County wastes some $300 MILLION EVERY YEAR due to patronage, fraud, waste and cronyism,” said Tresser.

(2)   Conducting a desk audit of every employee, starting with the President’s direct hires, to see if the job is needed and then if employees are qualified for their jobs and that they are physically present at their posts.

(3)   Eliminating the tax Increment Finance (TIF) Program entirely – sunsettng all existing TIF districts and returning all dollars in TIF accounts to the units of government that SHOULD have gotten that property tax revenue in the first place. “In 2008 some 420 TIF districts diverted $875 MILLION from units of local government in Cook County,” says Tresser, “In 2009 the four TIF districts in Alderman Preckwinkle’s 4th Ward sucked over $7.8 MILLION in property taxes into Mayor Daley’s slush funds. These four TIF districts had closing assets at the end of 2009 of $14.6 MILLION. If the people of the 4th Ward feel that their schools, parks, libraries and essential city services need improvement – they should ask the Alderman to get them some of that nearly $15 MILLION of their property taxes that are sitting in those accounts!”

(4)   Reducing the overall size of the county head count by at least ten percent. “The Better Government Association estimates that all ten percent of all government spending in Illinois is wasted due to corruption. A former head of county personnel told me that we could cut ten percent of the county work force and not miss them,” explains Tresser.


(5)   Allowing all union contracts to expire. The county would then start fresh and base all future contracts on the real needs of the county, a sound strategic plan for delivering services and a sober assessment of what we can afford.  “I am former union organizer, as was my mother and grandmother before me,” said Tresser, “but the local union leadership has sold out their own members by funneling millions of dollars to Democrats every election cycle. The unions have given my Democratic opponent over $200,000 and this is a clear conflict of interest. The unions have a choke hold on local government and this has to stop. The result is bloat, waste and inefficiency, which results in blocks to innovation and terrible service for the customers. I want to start a strategic planning process to improve all services in the county and then hire the best and most motivated talent I can and pay them a living wage with just and fair benefits, including free tuition at selected community colleges to finish or start their degrees in order to advance inside the county.”

The net effect of all these reforms would be to reduce residential property tax bills by AT LEAST TEN PERCENT. This estimate is conservative as is partly based on a report issued by senior researchers in The Cook County Assessor’s Office, “Creation vs. Capture: Evaluating the True Costs of Tax Increment Financing” (Journal of Property Tax Assessment & Administration Vol. 6, No. 4, 2009).

Acknowledging the difficulty of implementing such an ambitious agenda, Tresser noted “It can be done. It will take someone who is not bossed or bought by the Democratic Machine. It will take someone who has the courage to take on powerful interests who are not used to being challenged. It will take someone with a track record of building effective coalitions that solve difficult problems. It will take someone with a passion to serve and deliver excellent service. It will take someone who knows and understands the vast network of social service, social change, social justice and community-facing organizations throughout Chicagoland — and who can call on them for leadership, examples of successful programming and for organizing support to make my proposed changes a reality. I am that person.”

Tom Tresser is the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. He has been building effective community programs in Chicago in the arts, community development and civic engagement for 30 years. He was a co-founder of Protect Our Parks in 2008 which successfully sued the Latin School and the Chicago Park District to stop the privatization of Lincoln Park, In 2009 he was a co-leader and spokesperson for No Games Chicago, the all-volunteer grassroots coalition of concerned citizens which helped defeat the bid for the 2016 Olympics because it would have bankrupted the city, destroyed public parks, privatized city services on a massive scale and displaced working class families from their neighborhoods. Tom lives in Lincoln Park with his wife Merle.

More details on the Ten Percent Solution and the “Cook County 2.0” Reform Commission Project will be available on the campaign website, later this week.

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