Lawmakers in Springfield are well on their way to fixing a mistake made by the Park District of Forest Park. On March 11 the Illinois State Senate unanimously approved a fix it bill sponsored by State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood). The bill would allow the park board to amend its budget so that it can collect the property tax increase that voters approved in a Feb. 2 referendum. The additional revenue is supposed to go toward the purchase of the 2.5 acre Roos property on Harrison Street just east of the park.

That legislation has now moved to the state House of Representatives where State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) is sponsoring the bill.

“This is one of my top priority bills and I fully expect it out of there and have the governor to sign it,” Yarbrough said.

The bill has been assigned to the House’s Counties & Townships Committee. The General Assembly is currently on its Easter recess but is scheduled to reconvene on April 13. Yarbrough said she will push to move the bill out of committee and to a floor vote.

“When we get back, the committee will meet and I’ll be trying to get it out of committee,” Yarbrough said. “I’ll move it as quickly as possible. I know that time is of the essence and I’m committed to moving it out as quickly as possible.”

The bill would amend the park district code to allow the Forest Park park board to amend its budget by adopting an additional or supplemental budget to take advantage of the property tax rate increase of 12 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation that voters approved in February.

The state legislative fix is necessary because when the park board adopted its tax levy for the current fiscal year, which it did prior to the referendum, it did not account for the levy increase that voters ultimately approved. The wording of the referendum specifically referred to the tax levy that it had adopted. If the bill in the legislature does not become law by June 1 another referendum would have to be held before the park district could collect the money.

But if the bill becomes law by June 1 the park district will be allowed to collect the money that the voters authorized it to collect. The state legislature is scheduled to adjourn in May and Yarbrough said that the bill should be approved before it adjourns.

“We just need it to pass by June 1,” said Larry Piekarz, the park’s executive director Larry Piekarz.

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