The Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners approved a balanced 2022 budget on November 18.
The District's 2022 budget totals $60 million. The operating budget is $19 million, and it includes full funding of the vehicle replacement fund, computer equipment replacement fund and infrastructure maintenance and replacement fund. The budget also includes $16 million in debt service repayment for bonds being used for land acquisition and capital projects throughout the District.
“This budget allows the Forest Preserve to continue our stewardship efforts protecting, preserving and maintaining our preserves and expanding access to nature,” said Ralph Schultz, the Forest Preserve's executive director.
The Board also approved 2021 (payable in 2022) property tax levies. The District’s total estimated 2021 levy is $32 million, of which $16 million is for debt service and $16 million is for general corporate purposes.
The District’s overall 2021 tax levy rate is estimated at 0.1328 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, down 8.03 percent from 0.1443 for the 2020 levy. The owner of a $200,000 home will pay the District an estimated $87.65 in 2022, a drop of $8.28 from 2021.
“Continuing to maintain the level of service the public has come to expect from our organization while providing a decrease in our levy rate is an achievement," Schultz said. "Expanding access, connecting people to their preserves and restoring additional natural habit is even better.”
Along with funding the general operations and maintenance of the Forest Preserve District, the budget also includes funding for the following:
- Construction of a local connection to the Wauponsee Glacial Trail in Manhattan.
- Ongoing improvements to Isle a la Cache in Romeoville.
- Replacement of the floating docks at Monee Reservoir in Monee Township.
- Expansion of Lake Chaminwood Preserve in Channahon.
- Interior and campus improvements at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center in Channahon.
- Trail bridge replacements at Veterans Woods in Romeoville and the Old Plank Road Trail in New Lenox.
- Repaving of portions of the Old Plank Road and Joliet Junction trail systems.
- Construction of the new Veterans Memorial Trail paralleling Interstate 355 through Homer Glen and Lockport.
- Expanded habitat restoration efforts in Kankakee Sands Preserve in Custer Township, Forked Creek Preserve in Wilmington and Hadley Valley in New Lenox.
Along with the capital projects, the District's budget funds a wide variety of 2022 events ranging from "Eagle Watch" on January 8 at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center; "Fun & Food Trucks" at three different preserves in June, July and August; a "Pollinator Party!" at Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville on June 25; and a "Pumpkin Fun Run" at Hadley Valley Preserve – Gougar Road Access in Joliet on October 15.
Stay tuned to the Forest Preserve's Current Headlines for news on preserve improvements and acquisitions and the Event Calendar for all the fun programs and events coming in 2022.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.