District safeguards itself against inflation without raising taxes
(Dec. 22, 2022) — This week the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the agency’s 2023 budget and annual appropriation ordinance. The $130 million budget includes $44.9 million in operating expenses and $60.3 million in capital expenses.
On Nov. 15 the board approved a $51.3 million tax levy for 2022 to pay a portion of the District’s operational and capital needs. The District abated $4 million of the debt service levy, keeping this amount off DuPage residents' property tax bills. Despite record-pace inflation, the District’s 2022 levy reflects a 0% percent increase over the 2020 and 2021 tax levies, resulting in three straight years of zero increase in the property taxes levied.
“Budget preparation began six months ago, and it has been an engaging process,” said Andrew Brown, District director of Finance and Administration. “Staff was able to work within the president’s guidelines to develop a fiscally sound budget that accommodates a number of master-plan initiatives and provides for the continued delivery of top-notch recreation and nature-education services with no increase to property taxpayers.” Director Brown further stated, “President Hebreard and the Board of Commissioners have kept the total extended property tax levy flat over three consecutive fiscal years with record-breaking inflationary impacts. This is a significant accomplishment.”
Initiatives slated for funding in 2023 include the continued implementation of master plan projects and investments in landfill infrastructure. Notable projects include the construction of a new wildlife center at Willowbrook Wildlife Center in Glen Ellyn, exterior rehabilitation and construction at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, and improvements to the atrium at Danada House in Wheaton. Also included are the construction of a shelter at York Woods in Oak Brook, a natural resources support building at Greene Valley in Naperville, and a bridge over Sawmill Creek at Waterfall Glen in Darien.
Board President Daniel Hebreard expressed his enthusiasm for the District’s ability to increase operational funding while holding the line on taxes. “I’m pleased that we will be able to accomplish so much in 2023 while at the same time taking care of taxpayers and not placing any additional burden on them.”
An average of 2% of a DuPage County homeowner’s tax bill funds the District’s budget. For example, a homeowner with property that has an assessed valuation of $300,000 is estimated to pay on average only $114 annually to the District. This portion of the tax bill supports operations and improvements to ensure taxpayers continue to enjoy numerous services within the District’s 26,000 acres of land, 60 forest preserves, 600 acres of lakes, and 166 miles of trails.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has been connecting people to nature for more than 100 years. More than 6.2 million people visit its 60 forest preserves, 166 miles of trails, six education centers, and scores of programs each year. For information, call 630-933-7200 or visit dupageforest.org, where you can also link to the District’s e-newsletter, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok pages.