Cook County Board of Commissioners Committee Meetings
November 16, 2022
Finance Committee – 9:30 am
Environment & Sustainability Committee – 10 am
(Agenda Item 22-6140) Com. Degnan moved, Miller seconded this ordinance amendment. The Environmental Commission has served as advisors to Board on environmental matters for the past 4 years. The ordinance was passed in 2019; this extends the sunset date of this Environmental Commission by 4 yr. Com Degnan explained the commission selected 3 goals for its first 4 years:
Technology & Innovation Committee – 11:30 am
(Agenda Item 22-5023) Motion made by Comm. Sean Morrison, seconded by Comm. Degnan to receive and file. The item was deferred last month because the Board of Review (BOR) was absent when they were expected to give updates on the process and expected date for being off the main frame and being fully integrated with the systems of the Assessor and related departments.
Charles O’Shields, Chief Deputy Commissioner from BOR, stated no timeline given applied to the BOR, no timeline was developed for BOR to exit off mainframe. He stated their tech improvements were demonstrated by their work in 2021.
Chief Information Officer (CIO) Tom Lynch and Derrick Thomas, Deputy CIO, responded to questions from commissioners. Their statements indicated the following:
Committee Chairperson Kevin Morrison asked Mr. O’Shields to attend the Jan. meeting of the Technology Committee and be prepared to provide an update of the Board of Review’s strategic plan; it should include a report on RFP progress and timeline. “OK” was Mr. Shield’s answer.
State’s Attorney’s Office representative Matt Steiner presented the update on their office. An apology, explanation of absence, and assurance that this would not recur were given. Process for getting off main frame began with Juvenile System which is on the mainframe; adult system is not. It began with a discovery process which involved integration of cases, data mapping, identifying risk points and developing 2-point solutions to address those. He stated they are on track to be off mainframe by August, 2023.
Motion to Receive and File reports was approved.
Carolyn Cosentino, LWVCC Observer
Focus on Delays in Hiring and the New Pretrial Fairness Act at Cook County Board Budget Hearings - Property Tax Bills Expected to Be Issued by Thanksgiving
Cook County Finance Committee Meetings on the Budget
October 24, 2022, 12:30 pm-3:30 pm
Public Defender (“PD”) -- Presented by Public Defender Sherone R. Mitchell Jr.
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 86.2 M 96.9 M
FTE 747 803
Mr. Mitchell’s main issue was the need to hire more attorneys so that the caseload for each lawyer can be reduced. Now it is above the average of other large city public defender offices. This office uses the County HR department, and it is taking 4-6 months from posting to start date for new attorneys. The PD has started an Immigration Unit Pilot program to help non-residents in immigration removal proceedings. The PD will establish a pretrial division to handle the extra work required by the Pretrial Fairness Act.
Commissioners Degnan and Gainer expressed concern about the length of time in the hiring process. Commissioner Gainer asked if the ARPA or Equity Funds could be utilized to help the situation. She also suggested the PD get its own HR hiring department like the State’s Attorney has. Commissioner Daily pointed out that the State’s Attorney was a separate office.
State’s Attorney -- Presented by Kim Foxx, State’s Attorney
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 195.7 M 194.1 M
FTE 1,432 1,475
Ms. Foxx said the Office was ready for the Pretrial Fairness Act. She said that there has been a lot of mis-information about the law. Ms. Foxx is working with legislators to clarify the statute, and they hope to get the changes in during the veto session. The attrition in the Office is high but on a par with other State’s Attorney Offices. There are 107 vacancies out of 746 attorney positions. There are 237 total vacancies. It takes 3-4 weeks from job posting to a candidate starting.
Commissioner Gainer asked if there would be enough State’s Attorneys to handle the additional work required by the Pretrial Fairness Act. Commissioner Morrison asked how the process will be different in January. Ms. Foxx explained the changes and that the judge still has the power to hold an offender if he is a threat or a flight risk. Commissioner Morrison also asked Ms. Foxx to review the prosecution discretion policies that she has established in regard to retail theft and low-level drug offences. He also asked that she set up a commission with suburban police chiefs to discuss the policies, and she agreed to do that.
Commissioners Aguilar and Daley expressed concern about the high crime rate and its affect on the public. Ms. Foxx reviewed the high conviction rate of her office and said the issue is that there are low arrest rates.
Board of Review (“BOR”) -- Presented by Larry Rogers Jr. and Michael Carbonargi, two of the BOR Commissioners. Commissioner Tammy Wendt did not participate
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 16 M 17.8 M
FTE 151 156
Mr. Rogers stated that the 2nd installment property tax bills will be issued by Thanksgiving and due by December 30th. He also stated that the BOR asked for an increase of 26 FTE, but were only approved 5 FTE. He said the appeals process for the BOR takes 10 months. Since they got the final township assessments in December instead of July last year, the tax bills were delayed for this year. Rogers expects the bills will be delayed next year, too. Mr. Rogers says that the BOR needs the extra staff to help with the processing delays.
Commissioner Dailey asked Finance Officer Annette Guzman to review the request for more staff. Commissioner Gainer asked about the progress in the adoption of the Tyler system and both Mr. Rogers and Mr. Carbonargi said she should ask the Bureau of Technology. Commissioner Daily pointed out that the BOR did not participate at the Technology Committee meeting last week. Mr. Rogers said they submitted an updated report.
Land Bank Authority --Presented by Director of the Land Bank Eleanor Gorski
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 10.7 M 5.2 M
FTE 15 15
Ms. Gorski reviewed the activities of the Land Bank. 1200 properties were put back on the tax roles. The agency has a goal to reduce its aged inventory. It also has a grant of 5M from the Equity Fund to establish affordable housing on current Land Bank property. Commissioner Morrison asked who will make the decisions about those funds and it will be the Board of Directors of the Land Bank with community input.
Secretary to the Board of Commissioners -- Presented by Secretary Lynne Turner
2022 Proposed 2023
Budget 1.8 M 2.0 M
FTE 11 12
The office provides legislative support and information to County Offices and the public as well as maintains the County Archives and Records Office. There were over 1000 public comments to the Board meetings this year. They will begin closed-captioning of meetings and are exploring electronic voting, which is contingent on in-person meetings.
Observer: Kathi Graffam
Cook County Board Committee Meetings
October 19, 2022
Note: All items approved in Committee are expected to be passed at the Oct. 20 meeting by the Full Board concurring with the recommendations of the Committees.
Business & Economic Development Committee
Technology & Innovation Committee
Emergency Management & Regional Security Committee
Observer: Priscilla Mims
Cook County Commissioners Urge Stakeholder Unity not Finger Pointing to Deal with August Tax Bill Delay
Cook County Commissioners Finance And Technology Committees
Joint Meeting on April 25, 2022
The special meeting was held at the urging of Commissioner Sean Morrison to bring the key stakeholders together to get their commitment to work together on getting the 2nd installment tax bills out no later than mid-November 2022. Key were the chair of the Board of Review, the Chief of Staff of the Assessor’s Office, and the Chief Information Office, Bureau of Technology (BOT). The County Clerk’s Chief of Staff and Treasurer also provided comments.
Board of Review (BOR): Chair Larry Rogers stated he just received two days ago the remaining 70% of the required assessment information that his office needs to begin the appeal process for the 2021 assessments; that it will take his office 4-5 months at the earliest to process the appeals and get the information to the Clerk’s office to calculate the tax bill; which then goes to the Treasurer for printing, mailing, and collection. Mr. Rogers stated that his office ran largely by paper until 2015 when it converted to a digital appeal processing system [not the Tyler Platform]. He emphasized that he ran a parallel paper system to work out problems before relying solely on the digital platform. The BOR is not on the new Tyler System.
Assessor's Office (OA): The Chief of Staff, Sarah Resnick, who stated that she takes full responsibility for steering the input of property assessment data to the new Tyler Platform, stopped the parallel input of underlying data such as square footage to the decades old Mainframe Platform in July of 2021 after finding that the transfer of detailed data was almost impossible between the systems causing many errors and re-inputs. The Mainframe is the platform that the Board of Review has used for decades to obtain the needed information from the Assessor. The Chief of Staff contacted the BOR and the BOT to ask that they all work together to find a solution. A successful interface was developed, but it is the reason for the delay; and it was done without the BOR. In the meantime, the underlying information was already on the Tyler system; and the interface was offered to the BOR in September of 2021. However, it would require training of BOR technicians by the Assessor’s office; and the BOR declined, saying it has to be independent of the Assessor’s office.
Bureau of Technology (BOT): Tom Lynch was questioned as to his recommendation to run a parallel system between the new Tyler and the old Mainframe. He said he did make the recommendation. When asked if it was impossible to input the underlying data from Tyler to the Mainframe, he said it would be very difficult but not impossible. He also stated that the BOR was not included in the transition to the Tyler Platform as were all the other Stakeholders because the BOR used a 2015 Platform that was modern. He noted that not all systems can be replaced at the same time and that the best practice is to stagger rollouts. He said the “legacy system” which is the mainframe has to be retired. He also said that the interface is working.
Suggestions by Comm. Sean Morrison include: Increase Overtime; increase hearing staff; use retired staff on a contract basis; determine if an estimated tax bill for 2nd installment is possible. The Clerk’s Chief of Staff said that this is not a likely legal option but that he would investigate further.
Comm. Daley: Asked Mr. Rogers if the vast majority of bills can go out and the remaining that have been appealed go out later. Answer: No. The BOR needs one finite set of data. He did state that it is a good idea to bring former employees back under contract. However, with more help and more overtime, he does not believe that the five month delay in receiving the data can be made up. Daley also asked the Clerk’s chief of staff to contact the Finance Chief to see what can done to provide loans to small municipal taxing bodies if they are unable to get a bank loan.
Comm. Degnan: Encouraged BOR to get off the legacy mainframe platform so that the current issue doesn’t perpetuate.
Comm. Lowry: Asked if all three Stakeholders agreed that the 2nd installment tax bills can be out in mid-November. Answer: Yes, it is possible; but no guarantee. The Assessor’s office also stated that if it can get the information back from BOR in time, it can then meet the 2023 deadlines.
Comm. Britton: Asked if township assessors and assistant assessors could be trained to help the BOD process appeals. Answer: Would need the same system training as a new hire.
Several other Commissioners also commented or asked questions, all of which were duplicates of what is covered above.
There were six Public Speakers Representing the Following Organizations:
The Chicago Chamber of Commerce Illinois Realtors local Government Affairs Office
Western Spring’s Park District Palos Fire Protection Force,
Scofield Fire Department Building Owners and Managers Association
All were concerned about the delay in mailing the 2021 2nd Installment Tax Bills and its effect on their constituents and vulnerable Cook County homeowners.
Observer: Diane Edmundson
Individual authors are credited at the end of each post.