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December 18, 2014

Civic Federation Report Profiles Unincorporated Cook County

Efficient governance in the region helps ensure that public sector investments maximize benefits to residents.  GO TO 2040 recommends that the region work together to provide more coordinated and streamlined delivery of public services. 

On December 9, the Civic Federation released a report on unincorporated areas across six townships in Cook County. It includes recommendations on potential initiatives to facilitate incorporation and coordinate service delivery.  The report builds on findings of the Cook County Unincorporated Task Force, which suggested additional study on barriers to the incorporation of the scattered unincorporated parcels and neighborhoods in Cook County, with the long-term goal of municipal annexation.  Currently, Cook County must provide municipal-type services such as police protection and code enforcement to these areas.  There are a variety of issues that make it difficult for unincorporated areas to be annexed by neighboring municipalities, such as the need for infrastructure upgrades, differences in building code and design standards, and the ability to increase municipal services that meet demand. 

The report outlines the breadth of issues facing efforts to incorporate these areas, as well as the diversity in these issues across the county.  It describes the characteristics of unincorporated areas, services provided to them by the County, cost comparisons of those services between the county and neighboring municipalities, the property tax burden impact on property owners if annexation occurred, and barriers to annexation.  In addition, the Civic Federation includes recommendations, such as imposing a fee for police services in unincorporated areas, working with CMAP to develop a comprehensive land use plan for these areas, and reforming building code and inspection ordinances and policies.