The appropriation ordinance approved at the July 25 Forest Park Village Council meeting authorized spending $26,684,837 in the general fund, an increase of 8.3 percent. The overall appropriation is $47,073,286, an increase of 6.1 percent.
The general fund covers the village’s working budget and day-to-day expenses. Other funds are special revenue funds, debt service funds, the enterprise fund and the public library fund.
Following a public hearing that preceded the regularly scheduled village council meeting, the four officials present voted unanimously to approve the ordinance for the fiscal year beginning May 1, 2016, and ending April 17, 2017. Commissioner Rachell Entler was absent.
Mayor Anthony Calderone explained that the majority of the increases in the general fund are tied to personnel expenses but noted other increases are tied to the proposed purchase of a new ambulance, increased financial support of the Chamber of Commerce and expenses related to the pending 911 dispatch consolidation.
He called the increase “typical,” adding that village officials try to keep the appropriation ordinance increases between 5 and 10 percent each year.
“We run a pretty lean organization,” Calderone said. “The department heads do a good job of holding off on expenses.
“We have a good team. They make my job easier and I’m grateful for it.”
Calderone also explained that the appropriation ordinance establishes spending limits by fund and is different from the working budget.
“We usually appropriate a little more,” he said.
Appropriations in all categories in the general fund increased except for the Fire Department, which decreased from $3,964,319 to $3,782,508. Village officials explained that several higher salaried Fire Department employees retired and were replaced by new hires earning lower salaries.
Categories in the general fund that saw increases are Office of Public Affairs, which includes the Police Department and Community Center, up from $7,826,202.00 to $8,755,975; Office of Accounts and Finance, which includes the Fire Department, up from $12,222,049 to $12,435,814; Office of Health and Safety, up from $514,713 to $593,105; Office of Streets and Public Improvements, up from $1,764,894 to $2,272,510; and Office of Public Property, up from $2,305,896 to $2,627,433.
Special revenue funds are up from $7,079,000 to $7,424,000; debt service funds up from $2,854,050 to $2,936,000; enterprise fund, up from $7,942,322 to $8.087,450; and public library fund, up from $1,840,455 to $1,941,000.
The appropriation ordinance will be the basis of the property tax levy, which will be approved and filed with Cook County in December.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian previously called the village’s spending plan “a very bare-bones budget” and said the appropriation ordinance included sufficient funds to settle pending contract negotiations with the village’s employee unions.
In May, the village council voted to increase annual funding support for the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development to $25,000. Gillian explained then that the village has provided ongoing financial support to the Chamber of Commerce, but the amounts have fluctuated over the years.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the consolidated dispatch law in June 2015 after it was passed by the Illinois General Assembly. The law requires municipalities throughout the state with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their police and fire dispatch operations by mid-2017. Although no final decision has been reached, Forest Park officials are investigating joining the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center, which is based in River Forest and oversees emergency requests for that village as well as Elmwood Park, Oak Park and Park Ridge.