Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioners approved a new, balanced budget this week for the forest preserve district though the plan features both increased spending and income.
The district's general fund budget increases by 7.8 percent from last year. The fund covers most of the day-to-day costs of operating the district, including employee wages. The new budget calls for $7.31 million in spending, up from $6.79 million in the budget year that is expiring.
The new spending comes in the form of a 2 percent wage increase for district employees. That represents about $200,000 in added costs. The percentage increase is the same employees received in the previous budget.
Other new spending includes $328,000 in vehicle replacement costs and $86,000 in new staff costs.
Increased revenue will offset those new costs. The district expects to rake in about $196,000 in additional rental income from various facilities it operates. The budget also calls for $185,800 in additional property taxes from residents to flow to the district. For the second year, the district has also built in a 10 percent contingency over expected costs into the budget.
Some of the major visible projects taxpayers will see resulting from their money are a $1.2 million new Natural Resources facility, the $495,000 Fabyan bridge repair and replacement, and $265,000 in Paul Wolff Campground improvements. The district will also begin a $550,000 first phase of Settler's Hill Golf Club improvements. However, those funds are expected to come from a county account that still has money set aside when Settler's Hill landfill was still in operation for future improvements.
Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit said he is particularly proud of the $1.5 million reduction in debt the district owed. That debt was erased by a bond refinancing.
"We think that the budget is a conservative one," Hoscheit said. "You have to recognize that we continue to add property since our referendum, roughly 1,500 acres. So we continue to do additions without major additions to our staff. As president, I feel this is a very conservative and well-balanced budget."