Though the floundering economy has wreaked havoc on the village’s budget, the recession will actually benefit Forest Park in one respect. A multimillion-dollar road project this summer will cost significantly less as a result of the slow economy, saving the municipality more than 50 percent, according to estimates received from state transportation officials.

Just a few months ago, council members were wringing their hands over how they would come up with more than $1.4 million to pay the village’s share of reconstructing Harvard and Jackson streets. At the time, engineers were optimistic that both projects could be completed for at least 10 percent less than estimated because construction firms would lower their prices to secure what little work is out there.

That optimism was validated late last month.

Finance Director Judy Kovacs said she received the estimates from the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the total cost of the projects was reduced from more than $4.52 million to $3.35 million. Better yet, Forest Park’s obligation was cut by more than half.

“It’s a big relief,” Kovacs said.

In February, Kovacs told council members that an accelerated timeline would not allow the balance of the Village Improvement Plan fund to mature and cover the $1.4 million. However, the state has adjusted that figure dramatically, leaving Forest Park on the hook for only $689,000, according to Kovacs.

Elected officials had already scrambled to secure an interest-free 36-month payment plan on the $1.4 million. Seeing that figure reduced should give the village plenty of breathing room in its VIP fund.

Forest Park also expects to pay the $500,000 tab for a water main replacement this summer out of the same fund. Annually, the plan collects about $1 million in revenues, according to village officials. That money comes from a .5 percent sales tax. When department heads first put the fiscal year 2010 budget together, it was not clear whether the water main project could be moved from the general fund to the VIP fund.

“That’s significant, and that does help our general fund,” Kovacs said.