18-Month 2018-2019 Transitional Budget Approved
In order to continue moving toward the 100-Year Vision and Strategic Plan to preserve and sustain Lake County’s natural landscape, and extend community outreach and education, the Lake County Forest Preserves Board of Commissioners approved an 18-month transitional budget from July 1, 2018, through December 31, 2019, for $112,646,415 at their May meeting.
This one-time 18-month transitional budget will allow the Lake County Forest Preserves to shift away from a split fiscal year (July 1 to June 30) to a calendar fiscal year (January 1 to December 31), allowing for better tax revenue forecasting and budget planning for program activities and construction projects. The 18-month transitional budget shows an increase of only $20,917,636 (22.8 percent) over the previous standard 12-month budget, primarily due to a decrease in capital spending. The first calendar year budget will begin January 1, 2020.
“As expected, the transitional budget is higher than last year as it encompasses 18 months versus the typical 12 months,” said President Ann B. Maine, Lake County Forest Preserves. “With this balanced budget, we will continue to maintain our strong financial position. It also allows us to remain committed to protecting our resources and providing high quality education and outdoor recreation in an environmentally and fiscally responsible way. Our conservative budgeting approach has allowed us to maintain our AAA bond rating, an achievement shared by very few forest preserves and park districts in the nation.”
Of property taxes collected in Lake County, 2.17 percent of the average tax bill goes to support the Forest Preserves. The 18-month transitional budget will reduce the 2018 property tax levy by $360,948 as compared to the 2017 levy. This reduction is a result of debt refinancing completed during 2016. Total property tax revenue budgeted is $70,752,960, an increase of $22.38 million (46.3 percent) over the current 12-month budget (July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018) of $48,369,810. This increase is due to the 18-month timespan covered. The 2018 property tax levy is estimated to be $11,488,308 (19.0 percent) below the 2009 levy.
Expenditures for operating and maintaining the Lake County Forest Preserves are up by $16.6 million (50.4 percent) due to the 18-month transitional budget as well as additional expenditures for meeting strategic goals, preserve and facility maintenance, and public safety needs.
The budget includes an updated Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which outlines 17 projects, such as trails, public access improvements, preserve maintenance and habitat restoration to be completed in preserves throughout Lake County. There is a decrease of $5,746,950 or 49 percent in this year’s CIP budget. Commissioners have reviewed the CIP over the last several months to reset project priorities and budgets to reduce long-term operating costs once projects are completed.
Public access improvements and renovations are underway at several preserves and trail systems, including Buffalo Creek (Long Grove), Ethel’s Woods (Antioch), Fort Sheridan (Lake Forest), Lyons Woods (Waukegan), Nippersink (Round Lake), Spring Bluff (Winthrop Harbor), and Waukegan Savanna (Wadsworth). Construction is nearly complete on a new 1-mile section of the Millennium Trail along Russell Road connecting Pines Dunes (Antioch) and Van Patten Woods (Wadsworth).
Contact: Stephen Neaman, Director of Finance, 847-968-3109, sneaman@LCFPD.org