Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas says the average suburban household owes $32,901 to cover local government debt.

Pappas, after an appearance before the Civic Federaion today, told Crain’s Chicago Business she’s “stunned” to learn the size of the debt.

But Pappas says suburban Cook County residents get off easy compared to Chicago households — they owe an average of $63,525 to cover local government debt.

The figures compiled under a recently passed debt disclosure law shows municipalities owe more than half the debt , with school districts and Cook County accounting for most of the rest.

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  1. Greece is closer than you think…

    …the fiscal challenges confronting Evanston and all residents of Illinois should not be underestimated. While it's easy for our elected leadership to "kick the can down the road" to avoid the painful decisions, the sooner we develop a long term solution, the more our children and grandchildren will thank us. Debt is a legal obligation and must be paid. It's just like your credit card, car payment, or house mortgage. You don't pay, and eventually someone shows up and takes away your car, house or other assets. The debt our government has accumulated and is accumulating is creating a growing burden upon taxpayers and businesses and when the opportunity arises, those who can, leave. Just read the letter from Caterpillar's CEO. It shouldn't be a surprise that job creation in Illinois is lagging. Why should a business invest in Illinois and assume a massive debt obligation? Also, look at the number of people changing their residences from Illinois to Florida and Texas for example.

    What politicians fail to understand is that taxpayers have one or two people working to generate income for their family (if they are fortunate to have a job) but are taxed by multiple government bodies – the multiple layers of taxation creates a strain on a taxpayers annual expenses and burdens their balance sheets. Taxpayers are confronted with Local(City and Schools amongst other current and potential taxing bodies) Township, County, State and Federal taxing authorities which require annual tax payments (an income statement issue) but also and more perniciously, a growing debt burden caused by increased borrowing and unfunded liabilities, notably pension and healthcare related. If someone had the time, it would be interesting to fully analyze the complete financial liability a resident of Evanston has including City, Township, County, State and Federal debts and unfunded pension and healthcare on a per capita basis.

    Unfortunately, there is no "Botox Solution" or "Magic Diet Pill"- it took a long time to get here and it will be a long and difficult fix. Prudent decisions will need to be made for ALL fiscal decisions and for ALL government organizations. As a community and state, we have to recognize that we have limited resources. Borrowing more money today means that our children and grandchildren will have a bigger debt to repay tomorrow.

    Hopefully rational and thoughtful winds will prevail, else the current events in Greece foreshadow the future in Evanston and other communities in Illinois and our nation.

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