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    Cook County Budget Director Annette Guzman speaks during a preliminary budget hearing with the county Board of Commissioners Finance Committee on July 18.

    Nearly 15 percent of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s labor force has quit in the past year. More than one-quarter of positions at Stroger Hospital remain unfilled as nursing shortages stretch the limits of patient care. The county’s finance bureau needs to hire dozens of people to help get hundreds of millions of federally sourced dollars into the right hands. And Cook County Board of Review staffers are working mandatory evenings and weekends, prompting fears that the veteran appeals officers who haven’t already quit are being pushed to their breaking point as they try to make up time from late tax assessments.

    On its face, the $263 million year-end budget surplus Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle declared last month would portend an easy upcoming budget season, a sharp turnaround from the painful cuts forced by pandemic-driven revenue shortfalls just two years ago. But the extra money also exposes a major dilemma for the county: system-wide staff shortages that threaten some of the county’s most basic functions.

    Related: Cook County boasts $263M year-end surplus, $18M preliminary gap as budgetmakers brace for recession

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