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Forest Preserve Board approves balanced 2023 budget

Lake Chaminwood will get a number of improvements in 2023. (Photo by Chad Merda)

The Forest Preserve District Board of Commissioners approved a balanced 2023 budget on Nov. 10. 

The District's 2023 budget totals $61 million. The operating budget, which includes both the corporate and construction and development funds, is $21 million. 

The Board also approved 2022 (payable in 2023) property tax levies. The District’s total estimated 2022 operating levy is $32 million, of which $15.6 million is for debt service and $16.4 million is for general corporate purposes.

The District’s overall 2022 tax rate is estimated at 0.1250 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, down from 0.1336 for the 2021 levy, which represents a 6.46% overall decrease.

The owner of a $250,000 house would pay $104.17 to the Forest Preserve in 2022 taxes, a reduction of $7.41 from 2021. 

“The 2023 budget will allow the Forest Preserve to deliver the high-quality programs, facilities, trails and preserves that our visitors have come to expect while also providing a reduction in our overall property tax rate,” said Ralph Schultz, the District’s executive director. 

The budget includes funding for these projects: 

  • Hidden Oaks Nature Center Renovations: This project will provide interior renovations to expand exhibit space and renovate classroom, reception, meeting room and rooftop terrace spaces. A second phase of this work includes expanding the campus trail system, adding more exterior “classroom” space and making ADA-related improvements. Work on this second phase will likely take place in spring 2024.
  • Four Rivers Environmental Education Center Exterior Exhibit and Wayfinding Installation: Four large-scale exterior exhibits will be installed in addition to seating areas and wayfinding signage along the 1.25-mile paved trail. This project is partially funded by an Illinois State Museum Grant.
  • Isle a la Cache Improvements: Walkway and seating improvements will be added to the museum and Island Shelter along with improvements at the lagoon and boardwalk.
  • Lake Chaminwood Preserve Phase II: This project is underway and includes parking expansion, kayak launch improvements, fishing piers and a trail extension/connection to the I&M Canal State Trail.
  • Rock Run Greenway Trail Extension: The Rock Run Greenway Trail will be extended from Paul V. Nichols Access to Theodore Marsh at Covered Bridge Way along Essington Road. This closes the last remaining gap in the planned greenway trail. A separate project will also correct some drainage issues along the trail in Theodore Marsh.
  • Trailhead Signage: All trailhead signage throughout the District will be replaced with new ADA-compliant signage and wayfinding information.
  • Old Plank Road Trail Improvements: Portions of the Old Plank Road Trail between Schoolhouse Road and Washington Street will be resurfaced. 
  • Wauponsee Glacial Trail Improvements: The Wauponsee Glacial Trail between Hoff Road and Manhattan Road will be resurfaced.

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