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Board approves balanced budget; property tax rate will decrease

Three boys cast a line while fishing in a pond.
The Kid's Fishing Derby at Hidden Lakes is one of many Forest Preserve programs held throughout the county. (Photo by Anthony Schalk)

The Forest Preserve District's Board of Commissioners approved a balanced 2024 budget on Nov. 9.

The budget includes an estimated 6.86% drop in the property tax rate and funding for many improvement projects throughout the District, including trail connections, additional preserve amenities and restoration work.

The District's 2024 budget totals $60 million. The operating budget, which includes both the corporate and construction and development funds, is $21.6 million. 

The Board also approved 2023 (payable in 2024) property tax levies. The District’s total estimated 2024 operating levy is $32 million, of which $14.9 million is for debt service and $17.1 million is for general corporate purposes.

The District’s overall 2023 tax rate is estimated at 0.1167 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation, down from 0.1257 for the 2022 levy, which represents a 6.86% overall decrease. The owner of a $250,000 house would pay an estimated $97.25 to the Forest Preserve in 2023 taxes, a reduction of $6.70 from 2022. 

“The 2024 budget reduces the Forest Preserve’s overall tax rate while still delivering the high-quality programs that visitors have come to expect and enjoy,” said Ralph Schultz, the District’s executive director. “And the 2024 budget will allow the Forest Preserve to maintain and enhance its facilities, trails and preserves.”

The budget includes funding for these projects:

  • Wauponsee Glacial Trail – Manhattan Connections: two trail connections – one from the east and one from the west – will be constructed in cooperation with the Village of Manhattan and the Manhattan Park District. The connections will allow residents a safe, off-street connection to the regional trail.
  • Hammel Woods Campground Improvements: A welcome station will be created and the campground layout will be improved. This project will be completed in partnership with The Nature Foundation of Will County
  • McKinley Woods – DuPage River Kayak/Canoe Launch: an accessible kayak and canoe launch will be installed on the DuPage River.
  • DuPage River Trail – Weber Road Connection: phase one engineering will begin to remove a gap within the existing DuPage River Trail. The project will connect the Bolingbrook Park District’s Indian Boundary Park to residential neighborhoods and commercial developments via a Naperville Park District trail.
  • Wolf’s Crossing Road – Normantown Trail Connection: phase one engineering will begin to construct a multiuse trail along Wolf’s Crossing that would remove the gap between the existing trail systems of the Village of Aurora and the Forest Preserve. The work is in partnership with the village and the Wheatland Township Road District.
  • Lake Chaminwood Phase II Improvements: The Lake Chaminwood trail will be connected to the I&M Canal State Trail with the addition of a multiuse trail extension and a bridge over the canal. Two accessible fishing piers also will be added to the site.
  • Prairie Bluff, Forked Creek and Kankakee Sands preserves habitat restoration: More than 300 acres of former agricultural fields will be restored to native prairie, wetland and savanna habitats at three preserves. The projects involve restoring more natural hydrology, planting seeds of native species, controlling invasive species and undertaking prescribed burn management.

A look at the Phase 1 improvements at Lake Chaminwood, which were completed in 2023:


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