Forest Park’s COVID-19-fueled financial hole is deep. For the new fiscal year the village is budgeting to lose $3.2 million in its general fund.
Village Administrator Tim Gillian told the village council in a meeting last week that Forest Park does not have an expense problem; rather, it has an income problem. The pandemic has shattered revenue flows from delays in collecting property taxes, to declines in the share of state income taxes flowing to the village, to the loss of parking fees and ticket fees.
It’s brutal, and the news of the past week of the pandemic’s reach expanding into new parts of the country even as Forest Park and Illinois reopen is scary. Will our reopening hold? Too soon to know.
Mayor Rory Hoskins expressed cautious optimism that a long, slow climb in collecting revenues might be at hand. Hope he’s right. Again, too soon to know.
The village government, always walking a financial tightrope, has cut costs as possible. Unions have provided delays in pay hikes. But cost increases for negotiated salaries, for ever-rising pension obligations are daunting. If the COVID clouds don’t begin to lift, seriously hard decisions are ahead.
We have confidence in the village’s leadership. We don’t have confidence that we’ve seen the worst of this pandemic’s financial reach.