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Forest Preserve District Budget Approved for 2012/2013

Today, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners approved its operating budget for fiscal year 2012/2013.

The Forest Preserve District serves as steward of more than 25,000 acres at over 60 preserves and one state park, which are visited by about 4.3 million people each year. The District has won numerous awards through the dedication of 351 full- and part-time employees, over 200 seasonal employees, and over 5,000 volunteers. The District’s Annual Appropriation Ordinance funds programs at five educational centers, the restoration of native habitats, and the maintenance and operation of recreational amenities such as trails and picnic and camping areas. This year’s budget is on time and was developed as part of a multiyear financial outlook.

According to Forest Preserve District President D. “Dewey” Pierotti Jr., “I’m pleased to report that once again we’ve reduced operating costs while continuing to build new facilities and provide more ways for people to get out and enjoy the open spaces that enhance the quality of life in DuPage County.”

Proposed initiatives for the upcoming fiscal year include the following:

-Completion of the “Observe Your Preserve” online project, which will offer interactive field guides for forest preserves and a place for the public to share their outdoor experiences

-Continued support for summer camps and learning opportunities for at-risk youth in DuPage

-Expansion of programming and infrastructure at St. James Farm Forest Preserve in Warrenville, including trail improvements, municipal waterline connections, and the completion of a main entrance at Winfield Road and a new paved parking lot

-Completion of remediation and restoration along 8.5 miles of the West Branch of the DuPage River, a cooperative effort over the past 15 years

-Opening of a new archery and recreation complex at Blackwell Forest Preserve in Warrenville, funded by a grant from the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program and featuring three archery ranges, a picnic shelter, a fishing pier and a paved trail

-Continued development of an online program-registration and permit-sales system, offering greater efficiency for staff and convenience to the public

-Implementation of a computerized facilities-management system for more efficient tracking of maintenance work performed in the forest preserves

-Completion of a master plan for Oak Meadows Golf Course in Addison, which will focus on the sustainability of golf amenities, development of a new clubhouse, improved stormwater-management capabilities and potential integration with adjacent trail systems

-Expansion of performing-arts programming and partnerships at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, including a new series of concerts for children

-Construction of new limestone-surfaced trails at the off-leash dog areas at Blackwell and Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve in Naperville to improve safety and accessibility

-Opening of the new Urban Stream Research Center at Blackwell, which was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that will support aquatic ecology research

-Participation in a pilot study of a treatment to eradicate zebra mussels in open water at Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett

-Initiation of design and construction of trails, a parking lot and a 5-acre picnic area at Dunham Forest Preserve in Wayne

-Initiation of habitat restoration work at a rare fen at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett

The 2012/2013 fiscal year begins July 1, 2012. The total fiscal-year operating budget of $41,948,369 is a decrease of $190,763, or 0.45 percent, from the 2011/2012 operating budget.

Property taxes collected in 2012 will fund the 2012/2013 budget. The Board of Commissioners approved the tax levy in November 2011 at a rate of 6.68 cents per $100 equalized assessed valuation.

The District maintains a balanced general fund that matches current operating expenses with current-period revenues. Operations are funded primarily by property taxes, with the District tax rate comprising about 2.14 percent of a homeowner’s property tax bill. The District is subject to the tax cap, which limits property tax growth to the lesser of the Consumer Price Index or 5 percent.

The District has earned AAA bond ratings, the best possible, from multiple independent investment rating services and has received numerous awards for excellence in financial reporting.

Since 1915, the Forest Preserve District has served the people of DuPage County by acquiring and holding lands for the purpose of preserving the flora, fauna and scenic beauty for the education, pleasure and recreation of its citizens. To learn more, visit www.dupageforest.org or call 630-933-7200.

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