COVID-19, Local, Park Forest, Science

Finance Director Presents the Next Budget

Director Mark Pries gives an overview of next year's budget to the Village Board Monday
Finance Director Mark Pries gives an overview of next year’s budget to the Village Board Monday. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Finance Director Mark Pries presented next year’s budget to the Village Board Monday night, a process Pries described as “continuous.” Board members received draft copies of the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget. The draft of the budget will be available tomorrow on the Village website for those who wish to peruse it. Budget sessions will commence Tuesday evening beginning at 6:00 PM in the Board Room. These sessions are open to the public.

“We will start tomorrow night and have a lot of fun,” Director Pries told the Board.

The budget process in Park Forest is “continuous,” Director Pries reminded the board. The draft copy of the budget takes shape after board members set priorities, giving departments guidance. The various department heads then work to assemble a draft budget proposal for their respective departments.

After the budget is passed, it does not just sit on a shelf or in some cloud folder as a PDF in Park Forest. The budget provides guidance and sets limits on what monies may be spent during the fiscal year.

“The budget is a plan to spend, not a mandate to spend,” Director Pries said.

The budget sessions provide opportunities for board members to ask questions after each department head presents her or his proposed budget during these evening budget sessions. Such sessions can last anywhere from an hour-and-a-half to three or more hours, depending on the number of questions coming from board members.

In addition to Tuesday’s session, there are two other budget review sessions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, May 9 and 10 respectively. Each session should begin at 6:00 PM also.

Members of the public may and should attend, but there is no opportunity for public comment or questions during these meetings. These sessions are between board members and members of staff.

The next budget was built off a 0% tax levy increase that was passed in December 2021. The tax levy increase in 2020 was 0.85% in the Village.

According to Director Pries, the budget is balanced. While there was a 0% tax levy increase from the Village of Park Forest, the village portion of the property tax bill is only 40% for residents in School District 163. School District 163 is roughly 53% of the average tax bill with the remaining 7% levied from other taxing bodies.

The upcoming budget includes “major infrastructure improvements” including a $3 million Public Works project, Director Pries said. Among these projects there will be three miles of water mains replaced, three miles of roads resurfaced, plus a resurfacing project for the southern portion of Shabbona Drive.

Board members will also discuss recently taken by the South Suburban Trades Initiative, an ongoing process “created by the Village of Park Forest to provide a workforce development classroom,” according to the SSTI’s website. The benefits of SSTI include rehabbed houses in Park Forest, covered here and here by eNews Park Forest.

Director Pries said the impacts to the General Fund from COVID-19 were minimal. Such was not the case for the Aqua Center, Tennis & Health Club, and funds for Village parking lots.

The Village Board approved a budget amendment in April that transferred $600,000 from the General Fund to the Tennis and Health Club, $75,000 from the same to the Parking Lot Fund and $50,000 to the Bond Retirement Fund.

“The $600,000 is coming from the General Fund’s annual surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2021,” Director Pries told ENEWSPF in an April email. “There was enough of an annual surplus to make these additional one-time transfers of support.” Because of the surplus, this $600,000 will not be added to a future tax levy, Director Pries said.

For the same reason as the $600,000 transferred to Tennis and Health, the $50,000 transferred to the Bond Retirement Fund and the $75,000 transferred to parking lots will not go on a future levy either.

Previously the Village was supporting Tennis and Health to the tune of perhaps $30,000 a year, but the Tennis Club took a hit through the pandemic.

“This is due to COVID’s impact on the Tennis Club’s operations over the last 2+ years,” Director Pries said in an email.

The Village also received funds from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also called ARPA. These funds will be used solely for water infrastructure, according to Director Pries.

Besides eNews Park Forest, there were no members of the public in attendance.