Will forest district levy, spending may rise slightly
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org October 2, 2013 8:36PM
Updated: November 4, 2013 12:07PM
The Will County Forest Preserve District Board’s finance committee has recommended a 2013 property tax levy that would increase by about $400,000 to pay off bonds and cover higher medical insurance costs for employees.
The levy, which is the amount the district plans to raise via the property tax, would increase from $35.2 million this fiscal year to $35.6 million next year, an increase of 1.16 percent.
About $300,000 of the increase in property tax revenue would be used to repay bonds that were sold by the forest preserve district to buy more land and improve the preserves. About $81,000 is earmarked for higher health insurance. The bond sales were approved by voters in referenda in 1999 and 2005.
The owner of a home with a $200,000 market value would pay about $117 in property tax to the district next year, up about $4 from this year. The district board is expected to vote on the higher levy at its Nov. 14 meeting.
Of the $98,000 increase in the corporate tax levy, about $81,000 would be used to cover workers’ increased health insurance costs and $17,000 for pay adjustments in the district’s police department, said John Gerl, the district’s finance director.
Board member Don Moran (D-Romeoville) said during Wednesday’s finance committee meeting that he wishes the board would take advantage of an increase in the consumer price index and raise the tax levy a bit more.
“I think that’s short-sighted and doesn’t plan for the future,” he said of the proposed increase.
But a smaller levy that only captures new construction was approved Wednesday by the committee. The Nov. 14 board meeting begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St., Joliet.
During that meeting, the forest preserve district board also will vote on a tentative balanced 2014 budget, which also was passed out of the finance committee on Wednesday. The $49.7 million spending document includes an operating budget of $15.8 million — up $739,326, or 4.9 percent, from 2013.
The spending increases are due, in part, to pay raises for district employees in 2014. Employees who earn less than $75,000 will receive 2.7 percent increases, while those earning more will get a 2 percent raise. Another $17,000 will be used to adjust salaries in the district’s police department.
The budget will be on display at district headquarters at 17540 W. Laraway Road, Joliet, from Saturday through the Nov. 14 meeting.