Park Forest Cuts $2.2 Million from Budget Per Coronavirus; Future in Flux

Revenue allocations for 2020-2021 Village of Park Forest
Expected revenue for the 2020-2021 Village of Park Forest DRAFT Budget. (VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village of Park Forest is eliminating programs, declaring a hiring freeze, and engaging in virtually no capital improvements over the next 12 months to decrease $2.2 million from its proposed $55 million dollar budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year. This according to a statement on the Village website.

The math for the future is hardly certain.

The tax levy of 2.1% was set in December and remains in place. The $2.2 million in cuts will become part of the reserve fund balance. That balance will take the Village from a three-month to a four-month reserve in case expected revenues fall short.

Note: That’s in case some residents are unable to pay their property taxes.

According to the draft budget (Page 2-5), “Over the last ten tax levies for the Village, there have only been two years when the General Fund’s reserves were not sufficient to reduce the tax levy and this occurred in 2010 and 2011.” The following eight years had enough in reserve to allow for reductions to the tax levy.

As that reduction to the tax levy already happened for the Village to set a 2.1% levy in December, the future is not as clear. Data included in the 2020-2021 draft budget “is for levy year 2018 as the data for the 2019 levy is not available due to the Coronavirus epidemic,” the proposed budget says. (2-6)

Will the Village achieve an average 92.25% collection rate on the levy per the last four years? (2-6)

Sales & Use Tax Received Past 10 Years
Sales & Use Tax Received Past 10 Years (VOPF – Draft Budget)

The analysis in the draft budget is thorough. Whether the Village will be able to pay down next year’s levy is impossible to forecast at this point. Sales tax has been relatively flat since the Dollar General opened in 2013, Park Forest’s last major new business. Use tax, “the Village’s share of tax on items purchased outside the State of Illinois then used in Illinois,” and “allocated on a per capita basis,” which also includes internet sales tax, “has caused the increasing trend in combind combined sales and use taxes for the Village of the last ten years.” (2-9)

How have those trends been affected given the current COVID-19 pandemic?

That’s the million dollar, or two-point-two million dollar, question.

Budget Statement from the Village of Park Forest

The Village of Park Forest is implementing cost-saving measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Park Forest will shave more than $2.2 million in expenses from its proposed $55 million dollar budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

A combination of program cancellations, a hiring freeze, and suspending virtually all capital improvement projects for 12 months will shave $2,217,391 from village expenditures. The cuts were discussed and agreed to during budget review sessions held earlier this month.

“These are unprecedented times which have forced all organizations to adapt,” said Village Manager Tom Mick.

“The Mayor, Board of Trustees, and Management Staff are mindful of today’s economic climate. To their credit, the Mayor and Board moved forward with some tough decisions that were necessary to maintain the financial stability Park Forest has operated under for decades,” Mick said.

The cost-saving measures will provide an important boost to Park Forest’s reserve fund balances. The village, which typically maintains reserve funds to cover three months of expenditures, will now have enough funding in place to cover four months of expenditures. The dollars could prove critical to maintaining full village operations should the COVID-19 pandemic create any unforeseen financial shortfalls.

No Aqua Center for 2020

Of the $2.2 million in cuts, the village will save $270,000 with the cancellation of the Park Forest Aqua Center’s 2020 season. The season was officially called off last week due to the coronavirus. The village will save an additional $497,829 by not filling many seasonal summer positions and by allowing current job openings to remain vacant until the latter half of 2021. Some capital improvement projects slated for 2020-2021 will also be postponed one year, saving nearly $1.7 million.

“We hope there will be a level of understanding among residents that some streets scheduled for improvements this year will be on hold while we ride out any potential financial storms brought on by the coronavirus. We will however look at cheaper, cost effective ways to bring some degree of improvement to those streets, where possible, in the meantime,” Mick said.

With the full financial fallout from the coronavirus still uncertain, Park Forest leaders hope a clearer picture on where village revenues stand emerges by December.

A public hearing on Park Forest’s proposed budget is scheduled for June 1 at 7 p.m. Park Forest’s 2020-2021 budget is expected to be adopted on June 15 at 7 p.m.

Due to the coronavirus, meetings will be conducted via Zoom. Residents wishing to make public comments should submit their comments by email to [email protected] by 3 p.m. on the day of the meeting. Resident comments will be read during the public comment portion of the meeting. 

View Park Forest’s proposed budget now

This is news from the Village of Park Forest.