Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday that she wants municipalities to annex the roughly 62 total square miles of unincorporated areas, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Aimed at reducing the cost to the county for providing key services such as law enforcement, Preckwinkle made the statement at a press conference where she presented the recommendations of a task force she formed to study the issue.
The Cook County Unincorporated Task Force’s report is organized by timing, according to a press release: Immediate, up to and including the 2013 budget, near-term, as part of before the 2014 budget process, and long-term, which does not specify a timeline.
“The most significant obstacle to annexation in most cases is the current status of the built infrastructure in unincorporated Cook County and the bulk of the recommended strategies seek to address those infrastructure issues,” according to the release.
The task forces recommendations include the following:
- Encourage municipalities to annex unincorporated parcels with less than 100 residents, with a specific focus on parcels smaller than 60 acres.
- Improve code enforcement, particularly within densely populated unincorporated areas. Substandard building conditions, particularly in large, multi-family housing developments, currently represent a significant barrier to annexation.
- Review the allocation and categorization of Sheriff’s Police expenses to better define what police services are only provided in unincorporated Cook County and those that are provided County-wide.
- Seek funding from local foundations and other resources to create an implementation team that would execute the strategies from the report.
- Shift the annexation push to parcels with more than 100 residents and/or larger than 60 acres. This will require case-by-case considerations and negotiations with both municipalities and residents.
- Create fee-for service models and otherwise adjust current revenue streams to fully cover the costs of providing services to unincorporated Cook County.
- Where annexation proves to be infeasible, explore entering into intergovernmental agreements with adjoining municipalities for police patrol, code enforcement, and other services.
- Ensure that no new major construction occurs in unincorporated areas that does not meet common municipal standards.