Learn more about the Forest Preserves of Cook County 2023 budget and related information.
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President Preckwinkle Presents 2023 Budget Recommendation
Forest Preserves of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle introduced the 2023 Budget Recommendation to the Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners on October 7, 2022.
The Forest Preserves of Cook County total budget request for all funds for FY 2023 is $140,769,225, which is an increase of $3.8 million, or 2.8 percent from FY 2022. This includes $23.4 million dollars to continue to fund our world-class institutional partners the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden, both at the same level as last year.
The Corporate budget request, which funds the day-to-day operations of the Forest Preserves, is $70.5 million, an increase of $4.8 million from 2022. This includes a transfer of $16 million from the Corporate Reserve Fund to address higher costs for utilities, goods and services in a period of expected ongoing inflation and increases in wages to maintain a workforce in a challenging and competitive employment environment.
To set the Forest Preserves on a sustainable fiscal path, Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to place a referendum on the ballot for the November 8, 2022 election that would increase the property tax limiting rate. If the referendum passes, a series of amendments to the Recommended FY 2023 budget would be presented to the Board of Commissioners for their consideration and final vote.
The Finance Committee of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners held the meetings listed below for the purpose of conducting public hearings and review of the Executive Budget Recommendation. These sessions were Virtual Public hearings due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the Finance Committee of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners held the following meeting for the purpose of conducting departmental reviews on the proposed Executive Budget Recommendation.
Wednesday, November 30, 2022
There will be several committee meetings with public hearings to approve the proposed 2022 property tax levy increase and to amend the FY 2023 budget for additional revenue and expenditures.
Please review the Forest Preserve District of Cook County Board of Commissioners meetings for additional information and opportunities for public comment.
Proposed Budget Amendments
The amendments to the proposed FY 2023 budget presented to the Finance Committee of the Forest Preserves of Cook County Board of Commissioners totals $41,449,398.
- $40,892,545 represents additional revenue provided by raising the tax levy for the Forest Preserves by .0025%, as approved by the vote for a referendum on the ballot of the November 8, 2022 election.
- $556,853 is additional revenue anticipated from the state’s Personal Property Replacement Tax.
The amendments in the FY 2023 budget allocate an additional $41,449,398 for expenditures across ten categories that the Forest Preserves of Cook County has identified for funding from the referendum tax levy increase.
Pension Contribution: $0
The Forest Preserves of Cook County cannot currently increase its annual financial pension fund contribution due to limitations as written in the Illinois Pension Code. The Forest Preserves is working with state legislators to amend the code to allow the District to allocate the recommended amount necessary to fully meet its obligation. For the FY 2023 budget, the additional tax revenue from the referendum that in future years will be allocated as additional employer contributions to the Forest Preserves pension fund (currently $9.7 million annually) has been assigned elsewhere. These funds have been designated in FY 2023 to high-priority initiatives in the other referendum-supported categories.
Land Acquisition: $7,300,000
Acquisition costs for approximately 150 acres that meet the goals of the Next Century Conservation Plan, 2012 Land Acquisition Plan and Southeast Land Acquisition Plan. A portion of the FY 2023 allocation is expected to be banked and aggregated with future allocations to pursue larger and/or higher cost acquisition targets.
Ecological Restoration: $7,252,760
Additional staff, contractors, vehicles and equipment for the Department of Resource Management. Projects include large-scale expansion of ecological management work, primarily removal of invasive species and brush, at priority landscape units; aquatic vegetation management at popular waterbodies for boating and fishing; archaeological research of cultural resources within the Forest Preserves; expansion of wildlife research capacity; and creation of an in-house seed nursery for native plants.
Public Engagement and Programs: $2,754,216
Staffing, supplies, contractors and consultant services for the Department of Conservation and Experiential Programming and the Communications Department in the Office of the General Superintendent. Projects include additional support staff at nature centers to expand capacity for public programming and engagement; inclusive programming with organizations dedicated to connecting people of color and people with disabilities to nature; community-engaging public artwork; and increased outreach via social media, advertising and marketing.
Public Amenities: $7,253,000
Contractual services, operations and capital outlay for the Construction and Development Fund, to be utilized by the Department of Planning and Development. Projects include unpaved and paved trail repairs; picnic shelter repairs; restroom renovations; new amenities such as signs, benches and bike racks; ambassador animal enclosure improvements; golf course rehabilitation; and outdoor recreation improvements at the Beaubien Woods boat launch.
Public Safety and Landscape Maintenance: $4,659,293
Additional staff and supplies for the Department of Permits, Rentals and Concessions, and vehicles and other capital outlay for the Construction and Development Fund, to be utilized by the Department of Landscape Maintenance. Funding will be allocated to modernizing garbage removal services with updated trucks and containers; customer-service oriented monitoring and support at permitted events; and replacement of aging landscape equipment with energy-efficient equipment.
Capital Investments: Fleet/Support Facilities: $5,380,000
Contractual services, operations and capital outlay for the Construction and Development Fund, to be utilized by the Department of Facilities and Fleet Maintenance and Department of Planning and Development. Projects include solar panel installation and energy-efficient HVAC repairs and upgrades at the Maintenance Central Compound; new green vehicles and EV charging stations for an aging fleet; and design and bid specs for new maintance garage storage buildings, spillway repair at Saganashkee Slough Dam, and office space for the Department of Conservation and Experiential Programming.
Brookfield Zoo Capital Maintenance: $3,880,000
Funds to the Zoological Fund for capital maintenance at the Brookfield Zoo, including paving repairs to guest entrances, parking lots and other areas and HVAC replacements/updates to increase energy and cost efficiency.
Chicago Botanic Garden Capital Maintenance: $2,328,000
Funds to the Botanic Garden Fund for capital maintenance at the Chicago Botanic Garden, including repairs to gardens and bridges, updated technology, and major repairs to the Circle Garden and automation system.
Additional staff and consulting services for the Department of Finance and the Office of the General Superintendent to advance priority initiatives, including REDI (Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion), sustainability, partnerships with the Native American community, grant writing and purchasing. This expense amendment also includes $173,853 in modifications stemming from information subsequent to the submittal of the proposed FY 2023 budget. Those include higher expenses than anticipated for audit services, increased resources for police detail, and a correction to a salary line.