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updated: 7/11/2012 6:04 PM

Kane forest district to spend last of $30 million for land

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Kane County Forest Preserve commissioners have approved a budget for the new fiscal year that will see the last of the money from the $30 million tax increase voters approved in 2011 spent.

The new budget is balanced, just like last year, with 2-percent raises built in for district employees. The 2 percent is the same level of raises forest preserve commissioners approved for district employees last year.

The budget will see general fund revenue and equal expenses of about $6.8 million. That's the fund that covers many of the day-to-day operations of the district including the bulk of employee salaries.

The budget also factors in land acquisition expenses of $9.78 million.

That would just about tap out the remainder of the cash voters gave the district through referendum to acquire more open space. Those expenses will come sooner rather than later in the district's new budget, Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said.

"We will have fully invested the funds set aside for acquisition and construction within the next few months," Hoscheit said. "In the future, the public will have to decide if we continue that program."

Doing so would require the passage of another tax increase.

Commissioners have not discussed any plans to hold another referendum any time soon. The district has quadrupled its land holdings since Hoscheit has been president.

Taxpayers bought more than 1,200 acres of open space through the $30 million tax increase so far. That includes nine different purchases to give the district more than 20,000 acres in total land holdings.

In the last 16 years the district has quadrupled its land holdings.

The district will keep some money for land acquisition at the ready. The cash is used as the necessary matching funds for state grants that assist in land acquisition. That income is derived from some of the moneymaking ventures the forest preserve has engaged in. Those ventures include the agreement the district has with the Kane County Cougars, revenue from the district's golf courses and income from public use of the Fox Valley Ice Arena.

The district's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.

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