Park District considers tax levy increase, reviews 2011 priority areas
From press release
The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received the 2010 tax levy recommendation for consideration prior to the publishing of the 2010 Notice of Proposed Property Tax Increase in December.
Per tax cap laws, the Park District’s tax extension is limited to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or 5 percent, whichever is less, not including debt service and new construction.
Over the past 10-plus years, the District’s tax rate has been steadily declining, with the highest rate in 1999 of $0.8165 declining to the 2008 tax rate of $0.7319, a decrease $0.08 during this time as a result of tax cap limitations.
“At the same time, the cost of doing business has increased significantly, interest income has declined, and property values are not increasing,” said Rockford Park District Chief Financial Officer Stacie Talbert.
The proposed tax levy is asking for a total of $22,940,744 an increase of $815,377 or 3.7 percent higher than the prior year’s tax extension, which is recommended to achieve the board’s priority results and meet citizens’ needs for park and recreation services. The Operational Funds (corporate and special purposes taxes) will be levied for $17,897,000, an increase of $674,531, or 3.9 percent higher than the prior year’s tax extension.
The district will be publishing the 2010 Notice of Proposed Property Tax Increase in December. The ordinance will be available for adoption and approval by the Board of Commissioners at the Dec. 14 Board meeting.
According to Talbert, the increase is within tax cap laws and still leaves the District nearly $600,000 short of the 2008 level of funding. Additional funds will be used for repair and replacement, maintenance, free and reduced recreation programs, and accessibility improvements.
Board reviews district’s 2011 priority areas
The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners received an overview of the district’s priority areas for 2011. Executive Director Tim Dimke said that over the past year, the Board and staff have obtained extensive citizen feedback to prepare priorities for the staff to create an action plan and budget to accomplish goals for 2011 and beyond.
Based on this feedback, Dimke said the 2011 budget will address certain areas of service improvement expectations, including improving the overall maintenance and cleanliness of existing parks and facilities, providing leisure support for veterans, and responding to economic conditions by providing more free and low-cost programs and activities for families to enjoy.
“In every area of our operation, we have less to work with and are required to stretch our resources further while at the same time, limiting impact to our citizens,” Dimke said. “It is crucial that staff take steps to maximize what we have by creating new partnerships, expanding our networks, finding alternative revenue sources, and involving citizens in every area of our operation.”
According to Dimke, the district has reduced its 2010 budget by more than $1.4 million, which included reducing administrative costs, spending less on maintenance and repair, and cutting back on recreation programming to provide a balanced budget. “In addition, revenue shortfalls in 2008 and 2009 required an additional reduction in budgets,” Dimke added.
“We managed to end each year with a balanced budget, but it has not been without some consequences,” said Dimke. “Our citizens told us in the community survey that we are doing a reasonably good job providing a quality park and recreation system and meeting their recreation needs at a reasonable cost; but we can and need to do even better—in terms of maintenance, cleanliness, safety and making services affordable, accessible and convenient. Our 2011 budget will reflect improvements in these areas.”
The 2011 budget will be presented at the Dec. 14 Board of Commissioners meeting.
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