Park District freezes levy for 4th straight year

ROCKFORD — The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to maintain its tax levy for the fourth consecutive year.

RPD says that by maintaining its current property tax levy it is saving taxpayers around $1.7 million dollars. The district is currently struggling with a budget deficit of $1 million, which it says is due to holding the levy down and declining revenues from facilities.

“Holding the line on taxes is the responsible thing to do for taxpayers,” said board president Ian Linnabary. “We understand that our role in enhancing the community goes beyond providing a nationally-renowned park district; we must also live within our means.”

RPD estimates that the equalized assessed value (EAV) of properties in the district will show a 2.1 percent increase above 2016 values, though that number could change due to appeals and protests.

The district said last month that it is in need of a new master plan to help address its budget problems. A master plan would work in concert with the district’s annual strategic plan and would help identify investments in current assets as well as provide recommendations regarding obsolete and under-used facilities.

We are at the point where, unfortunately, we can’t continue to sustain all aspects of district operations and have no choice but to make tough yet strategic decisions regarding recreational opportunities,” said executive director Jay Sandine.

Residents can review the district’s proposed 2018 budget through Jan. 16 at area libraries. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for that day, as is a vote by the board.

Public input and feedback sessions on the proposed master plan will begin in February 2018.

“A master plan will provide an opportunity for the district to engage and inform the community on the true value of parks and recreation, receive critical feedback to determine priorities of park services, and ensure we’re aligning plans with the vision of other community leaders and organizations,” said Sandine.

The master plan is expected to be presented to the community in the summer of 2018. R.

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