Preckwinkle Unveils Forest Preserves 2015 Budget Recommendation
Balanced budget prioritizes habitat restoration, new campgrounds, public programming
October 8, 2014 — Forest Preserves of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle unveiled her 2015 Executive Budget Recommendation to the Board of Commissioners today. The proposed budget of $187.4 million is balanced without increases to individuals’ or businesses’ property taxes, or to existing fees or fines.
“In 2015, we will continue our focus on critical land restoration, the expansion of recreational and educational programs and the maintenance and improvement of our facilities, as called for in our master plans,” Preckwinkle said. “Ultimately, we are presenting a balanced budget that allows us to protect the diversity of plants and animals that depend on our preserves, and to give residents more ways to enjoy these resources.”
This year’s recommendation increases the Corporate Fund by $4.5 million over the 2014 budget. It includes an allocation of $6 million for landscape restoration, the largest single line-item in the budget for the second consecutive year, an indication that the restoration of natural lands remains a top priority for the Forest Preserves.
Another centerpiece of the budget is the expansion of public programming, particularly new and renovated campgrounds in Northbrook, Oak Forest, Palatine, Calumet City and Willow Springs. The five campgrounds increase the budget by approximately $800,000.
“We developed new educational experiences and programs throughout 2014 that attracted tens of thousands of children and young adults to the preserves, some for the very first time. We believe the new campgrounds and programs in 2015 will attract even more people, and help them connect with nature in meaningful ways,” Preckwinkle said.
The Forest Preserves also will hold a series of public events in 2015 to mark its centennial anniversary. These activities will focus on the history of the Forest Preserves, the people who have shaped them, the plants and animals that live there and the facilities and programs offered today.
Fourteen new full-time and 41 new part-time positions are being recommended in the 2015 budget, primarily to support the goals of land restoration and expanded programming.
The 2015 Budget Recommendation also reflects a continued effort to collaborate with Cook County departments to improve efficiency and save money on administrative office space, risk management services and information technology management.
The total Fiscal Year 2015 budget is $187.4 million and is allocated as follows:
- $62M Corporate Fund
- $3M Self-Insurance Fund
- $2.9M for Construction and Development
- $6M for Capital Improvements
- $16.1M for Bond and Interest fund
- $3.5M for Annuity and Benefit fund
- $14.9M for Brookfield Zoo
- $9.3M for Botanic Garden