Patricia Joan Murphy
Democratic candidate for Cook County Board (6th District district)
Responses to our questions
In preparing future budgets, Cook County may face rising costs and static revenues. How should county government evolve? What specific finance strategy will you encourage for producing balanced budgets? Please be decisive.
Cook County must develop pragmatic, meaningful short term and long term budgets that also allow for a funded contingency fund.
While every year we hear about the cost cutting measures, I strongly believe we must: fix what is broke in the county. We are at a huge competitive disadvantage. Ee are repelling commerce, manufacturing and our consumers because we have overtaxed to the extent the county will become bankrupt and out of business UNLESS WE MAKE CHANGES.
The county needs to optimize this opportunity to become a business friendly environment and become attractive with lower taxes and incentives. FOCUS on bringing business and families back to the county. Every commissioner should actively partner with business leaders in their districts to further economic development initiatives. The county needs to move from the reactive band aid fixes to realistic budget fixing at it's core. This can be done with common sense approach.
All parties at the table must be willing to work together, give a little, be creative and roll up there sleeves. It is the duty of the elected officials to serve the people. This in itself needs to be the transparency the county delivers and not rhetoric as the county evolves.
If faced in budget debates with cutting the county's payroll or raising taxes, which one will you choose, and why? Please be decisive.
I oppose raising taxes. When elected Cook County Commissioner, my goal is to reform revitalize and rebrand Cook County. The County Board needs to focus efforts to ensure the county is more business friendly in order to achieve success with the much needed economic development and the revenue streams and jobs that will result from having increased successful commerce and manufacturing. We are currently at a huge competitive disadvantage to attract businesses and families to come to Cook County. I will advocate to reform tax and fees wherever possible.
Do you favor or oppose privatization of county services and downsizing of the county's workforce?
I believe the privatization of Technology might be a benefit to supporting the County's infrastructure and also our Department of Homeland Security. This would give the county access to the most cutting edge technical resources which are vital to our climate. To develop and provide this critical level of technology in-house would be not be cost effective.
The relative stability of the county health system has reduced the costs to taxpayers. How can the county now stabilize the finances of the public safety and court systems?
The court system needs to improve the efficiency it takes to adjudicate cases in the system. The backlog of cases comes at a steep cost to county government. The county budget cannot afford to have individuals waiting for such prolonged periods to have their cases heard. With turnover alone all efficiencies are lost having at times significant number of personnel review the same file. The manner cases are handled also makes the county more vulnerable to malpractice claims. We need strong leadership who will establish cooperation throughout the law enforcement, judicial system and administration departments to achieve an efficient cohesive collaborative bringing with it safety and financial stability.
What is the role of the County Board in accelerating criminal defendants' time to trial and otherwise speeding up the flow of court cases? What if any changes do you propose for defendants' pre-trial release and electronic monitoring?
We need a responsible leader at the helm who believes there is a sense of urgency to monitor and enforce that the Cook County judicial system moves the cases along. The safety of the victim and the community must be a significant factor to be considered when deciding whether to use electronic monitoring and any conditions.
Do you favor or oppose contracting with municipalities or other public bodies to take over services now provided by the county's highway department, the forest preserve police, and other county-run offices? Please be specific.
I support the county entering into Intergovernmental Agreements with local governments, as many currently exist. One example is the Cook County Retail Economic Development Incentives program which is the method by which Cook County will encourage establishment or maintenance of retail businesses and jobs in Cook County. The purpose of this ordinance is to authorize Cook County to work with Illinois municipal corporations located in Cook County to provide needed economic stimulus to encourage establishment or maintenance of retail businesses and jobs in Cook County. Also, the City of Chicago and Cook County have duplicate agencies that may result in better operations and cost savings if explored. Take for example: Dept. of Animal Control, Boards of Elections etc.
Do you believe unincorporated areas of Cook County are paying their share for services provided by the county? What if any changes do you propose?
No, I don't believe all unincorporated areas are paying their fair share for services provided by the county but I can not say for certain with the limited information that I currently have. Once in office I would learn what is currently be charged as well as what might be getting overlooked as well as the economic status of the respective areas. Once a review is complete, I would be happy to make fair and objective recommendations to the Board to improve where necessary.
What specific changes, if any, do you advocate for Cook County's property assessment system? Do you favor or oppose creation of an office of tax administration to combine functions now performed by several offices?
I believe we need to address the claims of unfair assessments and equalizers being used in the Assessor's Office and the significant commercial refunds issued.
These refunds are significantly impacting the bottom line of the county budget; and lastly perhaps we need to adopt county ordinances and state laws to address elected officials that have an economic interest and benefit as a result of these property appeals should not be allowed to vote for, lobby for or weigh in on these issues as it is a direct conflict of interest that results in significant revenue losses to the county. I have concerns with the office of the Cook County State's Attorneys handling the caseload of these appeals, as this adds to their case load and their office already has a significant back load of cases.
I would be open to when in office have the County Board investigate, analyze and implement the necessary steps to bring resolution to fix any and all uncovered problems in the Assessor's Office and in the processes of the Cook County property assessment system.
For incumbents: During your current term, on what proposed ordinances have you been the primary sponsor? For challengers: What proposed ordinances would you introduce?
Resolution Prohibiting Dual Office & Double Dipping No Municipal Mayor can hold two simultaneous offices as County Commissioner and Municipal Leader due to potential conflicts, double compensation and benefits including multiple taxpayer funded pensions. This will also allow for Commissioners to have better attendance at County meetings.