Village council members approved the appropriation ordinance at the July 23 regular meeting, authorizing spending $27,111,495 in the general fund, a decrease of 3.1 percent from last year. The overall appropriation is $45,530,129, a decrease of 7.5 percent from last year.

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. The fiscal year began May 1 and will end on April 30, 2019.

Following a public hearing that preceded the regularly scheduled village council meeting, the ordinance was approved 5-0. The appropriation ordinance will be the basis of the property tax levy, which will be approved and filed with Cook County in December.

The majority of the $864,523 decrease in the general fund is tied to a decrease of $483,466 in the public affairs category, which Letitia Olmsted, village finance director, attributed in a large part to the termination last year of business agreements with Currie Motors and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Under the agreements, the village had rebated sales tax revenue to the businesses as redevelopment incentives. Both agreements were capped either by revenue or number of years. The Currie Motors agreement, which began in 2010, terminated when the cap of $1.25 million was reached. The Bed, Bath and Beyond agreement, which began in 2004, terminated after 13 years. Bed, Bath and Beyond received $385,189 in sales tax rebates. Similar sales tax rebate agreements are still in place with Hawk Chrysler Dodge Jeep and Grand Appliance.  

Also contributing to the public affairs decrease is a reduction in anticipated costs related to ending operations of the village’s 911 center and joining the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center. Those moves also led to the termination of the emergency 911 fund, which impacted the special revenue fund.

The village was forced to join the 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, by a state law that required municipalities throughout the state with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their police and fire dispatch operations by mid-2017. 

Outside the general fund, the biggest decreases came in the special revenue fund, which is down more than $2 million, from $10,496,300 to $8,474,250; and the enterprise/water fund, down almost $1 million, from $8,099,496 to $7,197,868.

Olmsted explained that the majority of the special revenue fund decrease, $1,775,000 total, is due to the termination of the Forest Park Mall tax increment financing district last year. Other decreases within the special revenue fund include $251,000 from the termination of the emergency 911 fund and $281,300 in the Village Improvement Fund due to fewer infrastructure projects. 

The Roosevelt/Hannah tax increment fund saw an increase of $500,000 due to planned infrastructure improvements. 

Completion of the Brookfield/North Riverside Water Commission’s new water main led to the enterprise/water fund decrease. With the new water main, the Brookfield/North Riverside Water Commission will no longer purchase Lake Michigan water from Forest Park. 

Unlike in 2017, village officials were able to hold a series of budget workshops to prepare for this year’s appropriation ordinance vote. Last year, Commissioner Dan Novak abstained from voting on the appropriation ordinance, citing the lack of budget workshops and the fact that commissioners had received their budget binders just two weeks prior to the vote.

Last year, village officials said waiting for the Illinois legislature to approve a state budget led to the delay of the start of their budgeting process leading up to the appropriation ordinance vote. 

Mayor Anthony Calderone said there is less uncertainty in Springfield this year, noting, “Things are a little more stable,” which allowed the village to re-establish the normal budgeting process schedule.

The decrease in the general fund appropriation and overall appropriation reverses the trend of increases in previous years. 

In 2016, the general fund appropriation increased 8.3 percent and the overall appropriation increased 6.1 percent. In 2017, the general fund appropriation increased 4.8 percent and the overall appropriation increased 4.6 percent.

In the general fund, the Office of Public Affairs, which includes the Police Department and Howard Mohr Community Center, is down from $8,947,963 to $8,233,677, but the Office of Accounts and Finance, which includes the Fire Department, is up from $14,218,159 to $14,316,338. 

Other categories in the general fund that saw decreases are the Office of Health and Safety, down from $545,100 to $460,611; Office of Streets and Public Improvements, down from $1,866,672 to $1,720,025; and Office of Public Property, down from $2,398,123 to $2,380,843.

The only category in the general fund that saw an increase is the Office of Accounts and Finance, up from $14,218,159 to $14,316,338, due in part to the planned purchase of two new vehicles for the fire department.  

Olmsted also noted that the police and fire pensions are funded at 100 percent for the second consecutive year.

The debt service fund is down from $713,750 to $710,650 but the public library fund, up from $1,957,000 to $2,035,867. 

The Forest Park Public Library falls under the auspices of the village but is governed separately.