When fiscal year 2010 ended on April 30, the core of the village’s operating budget enjoyed a $203,400 surplus, which some village officials attributed to prudent spending.

Three of the sources the village relies on most for its expenses – the general fund, the water fund and the parking fund, aka the “majors” – finished the year ahead. However, some of the money that helped put the village in the black in FY’10 came from one-time events, according to Rory Hoskins, commissioner
of Accounts and Finance.

He believes that, if not for money garnered from two property deals, the village
would have faced a deficit at the close of the fiscal year.

“I can say that with certainty,” he told the Forest Park Review.

Last year, the village received $525,000 from Roos Property LLC, and $292,000
from the West Cook YMCA the previous year, according to an audit of its FY’10
finances, completed last November.

The $525,000 was paid to offset any costs the village would have incurred to
accommodate the expansion of the still unfinished Roos building development, located at Harrison and Circle. That money was put into general reserves in FY’10, and is available if needed. 

Meanwhile, the village appropriated $292,000 in earnest money from the West Cook YMCA when the Y failed to raise $24 million for a recreational center it was planning to build on the Altenheim property, 7824 Madison.

What’s more, the village sold bonds to finance the purchase of the property, and is making annual payments of $380,000 for the “foreseeable future,” as Hoskins
put it. 

According to the audit, the YMCA money came in October 2009, or within FY’10 although it was “recognized in fiscal year 2009,” a point Mayor Anthony Calderone echoed in a phone conversation with the Review.

Because it came in FY’10 but was included in the FY’09 budget, it is not clear how the money was spent. Village Administrator Tim Gillian said it was used
“over several fiscal years” to pay for legal services.

“The $292,000 was received in FY’10 and did help to keep us in the black for the fiscal year,” Hoskins wrote in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, the $525,000 from Roos is on the books for FY’10 and is available in “assets for cash flow,” as Calderone put it.

“It would be unfair to say that, had it not been for that money, there would
have been a deficit,” Gillian said.

“A budget is fluid,” said Calderone, adding that, if necessary, “adjustments
would have been made” to avoid a deficit.

He offered that explanation when asked what the village will do to supplement
revenue if it falls short this year and there is no additional funding, like there was with Roos and YMCA funds.

Currently, the village faces a $1.6 million deficit. Gillian emphasized that this was just a “snapshot,” and that the village is trying to maximize its shrinking revenue sources.

A monthly village finance report, published last week and presented at Monday’s
council meeting, points to some imbalances.

Revenue from the general fund decreased by $270,500 from last year, when excluding grant money; however, if grant dollars are included, the amount from the general fund moves to $807,300 more than in FY’10.
Furthermore, grant money collected so far is 103 percent more than what was initially budgeted. 

Money collected from the two other major funds, water and parking, also dipped,
and revenue from property taxes shrank by $559,800.

At Monday’s council meeting, Calderone said the revenue numbers were not entirely accurate because the Cook County Assessor issued property tax forms later this year, so the returns have not arrived yet.

In addition to slight declines in certain sources of revenue, the village has spent $1.1 million more to date than last year. Most of that money came from grants, though. Without the grants, the total is $133,800 more in spending.

Expenditures increased, in part, due to the $52,700 used to address storm related-damages that occurred when Forest Park was declared a disaster zone following torrential rains this summer. That money was not budgeted.

“I wish I could foresee the future and budget in January for two storms that occurred in June and July but I can’t,” Gillian stated. “That was paid out of the general fund, and it was one of many intangibles that local government must
deal with.”

The state is also behind $447,000 in the local share of state income tax.

“The budget is a living, breathing document that’s being ignored,” Hoskins maintained. “Spending has not been reduced to reflect revenue.”

The village’s current budget is $22.6 million, of which $34 million has been appropriated for future spending.

“It’s short-sighted,” he said. “By law, we’ve left ourselves a lot of room to spend.” Referring to Roos and YMCA, he added, “We’re never going to get that cash infusion again.”