In what might herald a closer working relationship between the north and northwest suburbs and Cook County government, Cook County Board president Toni Preckwinkle met Wednesday with a group of about 25 suburban elected officials.
"She provides a refreshing change of pace," said Mark Fowler, executive director of the Northwest Municipal Conference, comparing Preckwinkle to her predecessor, Todd Stroger.
"It seems like she's very conscientious and very interested in working with municipalities."
The NWMC is a consortium of north suburban governments, and it hosted Preckwinkle at the meeting, held at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines.
Earlier: Preckwinkle wants suburbs to annex unincorporated areas
Preckwinkle talked with the group about county operations, including health care, crimininal justice and economic development.
Louella Preston, a Niles trustee and Niles' representative on the NWMC, asked about the task force regarding unincorporated areas in the county, which Preckwinkle started earlier this year.
Of the county's approximately 5 million people, about 100,000 live in unincorporated areas, Fowler said, and the county provides services, such as law enforcement in the form of the county sheriff's office, to them. In the Des Plaines-Park Ridge-Niles-Morton Grove area, about 30,000 people live in unincorporated Maine Township.
A subcommittee of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus is studying the issue, Fowler said.
"I think there's some pushback," he said, indicating that for municipalities to annex areas and provide police services and build sewers and wastewater treatment facilities costs money--a commodity which is in short supply for municipalities these days.
Other issues the suburban officials talked with Preckwinkle about included holiday bond court--a compromise was recently worked out so that suburbs do not have to bring prisoners all the way to 26th and California on Chicago's South Side on weekends--and economic development.
One suburban representative from Prospect Heights suggested the county develop a website listing commercial properties available for sale, so that businesses looking for a parcel of land would know what's on the market.
Fowler was happy with the exchange of ideas.
"We were very pleased to have her come out," he said.