The Village of Forest Park is projected to end the 2023 fiscal year, which began July 1 and will end on June 30, 2023, with a $1.37 million surplus based on the appropriations ordinance approved during the July 25 village council meeting.
As a non-Home Rule municipality, Forest Park must file an appropriation ordinance with the Office of Cook County Clerk. The ordinance establishes legal limits on how much the village will be able to spend. It isn’t unusual for Forest Park to end up spending less than the appropriations. This year, Forest Park appropriated $56,624,607, and the village estimates that it will get $57,999,148 in revenue – a figure that includes state and federal grants.
Overall, Forest Park appropriated around $2 million more than it did last year – something that mostly comes from new hires, new grant funding and some delayed infrastructure projects. Most notably, the village is considering using $644,091 in American Recovery Plan Act federal stimulus funds for several village infrastructure projects, police vehicle replacement, $20,000 in business incentive grants and $25,000 in marketing assistance to the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce. The village council will still need to approve the ARPA spending, as well as some grant spending.
According to a memo prepared by Forest Park finance director Letitia Olmsted, some of the differences between fund appropriations are due to one-time expenses and certain line items being moved between funds. But some of the differences do reflect planned increased spending.
In the general fund, which covers most of the village’s day-to-day expenses, the fire department appropriations have been increased by around $500,000 to account for the possible hiring of three additional firefighters. It also reflects the Fiscal Year 2023 budget calling for spending 14% more on salaries and benefits (an increase of around $1.9 million) to account for expected salary increases that would be included in the fire and police contracts, as well as salary increases for non-union employees. The finance department appropriations increased by roughly $1.5 million to account for expected higher insurance premiums and the village paying its pension obligations in full. Another notable source of appropriation increases is higher consultant fees to cover zoning code review.
The appropriations for the more specialized funds show increases as well. The appropriations for the police vehicle fund, which uses proceeds from court-imposed fines to, as the name suggests, buy new police vehicles, have more than doubled to cover the purchase of two new patrol cars. The appropriation for the Fleet Replacement Capital Asset Fund, which was established last fiscal year to use revenue from the Municipal Motor Fuel Tax to help cover vehicle replacement for other departments, was increased by $66,687 to cover Public Works vehicle purchases.
Motor Fuel Tax appropriations are $42,322 higher than last year to account for spending on several street resurfacing projects, most notably Madison Street and Jackson Boulevard improvements. The appropriations for the VIP fund, which uses sales tax revenue to provide additional infrastructure funding, were increased by $349,000.
But perhaps the more notable difference is that this will be the first fiscal year the village will take advantage of the ARPA funding. Aside from business development and marketing assistance, the preliminary proposal calls for spending a total of $135,000 on fire station roof repairs, another $45,000 on replacing roof air-conditioning units, $32,091 to replace the AC unit at Mohr Community Center, $150,000 to replace the community center playground, $25,000 to inspect the conditions of village-owned buildings, $21,000 on village reservoir cleaning and inspection, $176,000 to buy two new police squad cars and one police command vehicle, $30,000 to help cover staff salaries and benefits. The village currently plans to spend the rest of the money over the next two fiscal years.
The village council held the required public hearing on the ordinance 15 minutes before the start of the regular meeting. While the hearing was announced a week ahead of time, the text of the appropriation ordinance wasn’t posted until the morning of July 23.
No one commented during the hearing, and the village approved the ordinance without discussion.