Lake County forest district officials predicting balanced budget for 2020

  • Lake County Forest Preserve District officials want to spend about $4.2 million in 2020 on site and trail improvements at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda.

      Lake County Forest Preserve District officials want to spend about $4.2 million in 2020 on site and trail improvements at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Lake County Forest Preserve District officials want to spend nearly $85,000 on site and trail improvements at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve near Highland Park in 2020.

    Lake County Forest Preserve District officials want to spend nearly $85,000 on site and trail improvements at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve near Highland Park in 2020. Courtesy of DroNation

 
 
Updated 9/24/2019 4:53 PM

Lake County Forest Preserve District officials are predicting a balanced budget for the 2020 fiscal year.

Total projected spending and total project revenue both should be about $62.4 million during the fiscal cycle beginning Jan. 1, under a proposed budget reviewed by forest district officials Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The proposed budget includes money for public projects such as:

• Site and trail improvements at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda, at an estimated cost of $4.2 million.

• The construction of a new maintenance building at Lakewood, which could cost nearly $2.3 million.

• Road and parking lot repairs at several sites, including the Sedge Meadow Forest Preserve canoe launch near Wadsworth and the Sun Lake Forest Preserve near Lake Villa, at a potential cost of more than $1.3 million.

• Site and trail improvements at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve near Highland Park, which could cost $85,000.

• Habitat restoration at Middlefork Savanna near Lake Forest, Wright Woods near Mettawa and Van Patten Woods near Wadsworth, which could cost nearly $1.3 million.

• Accessibility improvements for people with disabilities at preserves throughout the county, at an estimated cost of $50,000.

Forest board President Angelo Kyle said every Lake County resident should be able to safely enjoy the preserves, regardless of physical ability.

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"One focus of our 100-year vision for Lake County is to provide convenient access for all people to enjoy outdoor recreation and nature exploration," said Kyle, a Waukegan Democrat.

This will be the first time the forest district's fiscal year follows a traditional calendar. Historically, the district's fiscal year has begun July 1 and ended June 30.

Officials said aligning the fiscal year with the calendar year will allow for better tax revenue forecasting and financial planning for activities and construction projects.

To accommodate the switch to a new fiscal cycle, the previous budget covered spending and revenue for the 18 months between July 1, 2018, and Dec. 31, 2019.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The proposed 2020 budget is significantly smaller than its predecessor as a result. For example, the 18-month plan calls for about $134.3 million in spending on salaries, benefits, construction projects and other expenses -- more than double than the 2020 estimate.

Likewise, the 18-month budget predicted $134.3 million in revenue from property taxes, the district's golf courses, building rentals, permits and other income sources. That sum also is more than double the revenue estimate for the 2020 fiscal year.

Forest district officials publicly reviewed the proposed 2020 budget Monday morning during a joint committee meeting in Libertyville.

The forest board is expected to vote on the plan Oct. 8.

A copy of the proposed budget can be found online at lcfpd.org/assets/1/28/2020-ProposedAnnualBudget.pdf.

• Daily Herald Staff Writer Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.

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