Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is calling for the elimination of all unincorporated areas in the coming years in order to relieve the county's strained financial resources, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Preckwinkle appointed a task force in November 2011 to investigate the provision of services to unincorporated Cook County, as well as the associated costs. The study was completed and results were announced during a press conference Monday morning.
Palatine has 175 acres that could be included in the annexation, which does not include the forest preserves since nobody is living there, said Reid Ottesen, village manager for Palatine.
The unincorporated areas in Cook County that could logically fall into Palatine’s boundaries are north of Northwest Highway off of Quentin Road, and the area around the Route 53/Rand/Dundee triangle, Ottesen said. Since Palatine has boundary agreements with Rolling Meadows in the unincorporated portions south of the village, any annexation in that area would likely go to Rolling Meadows.
Ottesen said that the question that needs to be answered is how is the annexation going to be paid for if it happens. The amount received in property taxes from the annexed land would not be enough to cover the costs that area requires for structural updates and police enforcement.
“It’s not urban infrastructure,” Ottesen said, “The storms and sewers are under designed.”
The Cook County Unincorporated Task Force’s 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.