Lake County Forest Preserves approve 2024 budget

Owner of a home valued at $250,000 is expected to pay about $129 to the Forest Preserves

A view of the namesake pond at Captain Daniel Wright Woods Forest Preserve in Mettawa. The photo is on the cover of the cover of the budget book.

LIBERTYVILLE – Moving toward its 100-Year Vision to preserve and sustain Lake County’s natural landscape and extend community outreach and education, the Lake County Forest Preserves Board approved the fiscal 2024 budget at its Oct. 11 meeting.

The $66,825,199 budget represents a decrease of $23,663,504 (26.15%) from the previous year’s modified budget. The decrease is because of a reduction in capital expenditures. The budget covers expenditures from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2024.

“I’m proud of this conservative budget and everything that it will help us accomplish,” Angelo Kyle, president of the Lake County Forest Preserves, said in a news release. “It is important that we balance fiscal responsibility with our ability to protect more open space, restore wildlife habitat, create new trails and improve public access.”

Of the property taxes collected in Lake County, less than 2% of the average tax bill goes to support the Lake County Forest Preserves. The expected tax levy to be collected in 2024 is about $51 million. That’s up about 2.8% from last year, but $9.4 million below the total levy in 2009. The rate is less than allowable under state rules.

“We again approved a levy that does not maximize the available funding under Property Tax Extension Limitation Law,” Executive Director Alex Ty Kovach said in the release.

The owner of a home valued at $250,000 is expected to pay about $129 to the Forest Preserves, an increase of $3.52 from last year. In 2008, that same homeowner paid about $154 to the Forest Preserves. Operating expenses, excluding debt service, are up about 2.5% from last year.

Some of the approved operating additions:

• The purchase of electric equipment to replace gas-powered equipment. “We are placing a heavy emphasis on energy efficiency,” Kovach said. “When a gas-powered piece of equipment is due for replacement, we are buying electric as much as possible.”

• To continue engagement with diverse communities, cultural events will be added, including Afrofest and a Latino cultural event.

• Funding for education events to celebrate the 17-year cicada emergence.

• Appraisal of the Dunn Museum collection.

• Additional security for large events, including Concerts in the Plaza.

• Two unmanned electric machines to collect golf balls and cut grass at the Countryside and ThunderHawk driving ranges, allowing staff to be allocated to other areas.

• State-mandated body-worn cameras for the Ranger Police along with vehicle cameras.

• Right-size infrastructure and reallocate funds from road repairs to place added emphasis on the landscape and ecosystem.

• A part-time employee will be added to clean up historical language, such as racial restrictive covenants, that is in the deeds of the Forest Preserves properties. “As the largest landowner in Lake County, we are taking a proactive stance on this,” Kovach said.

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