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posted: 2/2/2013 1:00 AM

Kane forest preserve might seek more cash, in 2016

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Kane County Forest Preserve District officials have spent nearly all the $30 million tax increase approved by voters for land acquisition in 2011. But it won't be until 2016 or 2017 that residents see a ballot question asking for another cash infusion to preserve open space.

That's right about the time Kane County residents would be set to see a decrease in the taxes they pay the forest preserve district. The decrease would be the result of debt being paid off and a drop in the district's tax levy to pay such debts.

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But Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said Friday he envisions asking taxpayers to delay that relief in favor of granting the district more money to add to its land holdings once again.

"If I had my way we'd get our community group back together, and if they said keep doing what you're doing, we'd go out for a referendum again," Hoscheit said. "The timing for that isn't good right now. But it will probably be a policy decision for us in 2016 or 2017."

With debt coming off the books at the same time, Hoscheit said the pitch to taxpayers would be for a referendum that allows the district to keep the tax levy at the same rate. In that way, the district would get money at the same time that taxpayers avoid a tax increase.

However, that would also mean foregoing the tax decrease that would come with the natural expiration of the district's current debt.

Hoscheit made the comments as commissioners on the district's executive committee reviewed the results of the comprehensive annual financial report. It's the first such report the district has ever commissioned. Hoscheit said the report helps add to the district's financial transparency to both taxpayers and potential future bond purchasers.

The report showed the district has $487 million in total assets. Most of that is in the form of land or other capital holdings. That compares to $236.7 million in outstanding bonded debt. All that debt is related to money borrowed for land purchases and improvements.

The district also has $4.3 million in total savings in its main operating fund.

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