Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners has approved the 2017 budget.
With shrinking resources, the District has continually evaluated and aligned resources to prioritize services to support the success of youth, teens, people with disabilities, and families during summer and non-school times. Since the 2008 recession, the Park District has made roughly $7.4 million in budget adjustments or annual budget reductions. In order to reduce an approximate $1 million deficit in the 2017 budget, the District analyzed many creative ways to minimize service cuts to citizens. Before any service or program reductions were proposed, the District aggressively pursued non-tax revenue from concession contracts, sponsorships, donations, and tourism dollars. The District also closed the funding gap by implementing even more lean strategies and operational efficiencies along with the redeployment of team members. The District continues to operate differently but unfortunately budget cuts are now impacting the delivery of services. More than 100 various community organizations are negatively impacted by the District’s 2017 budget, based on the District’s decision to eliminate support service equipment (bleachers, picnic tables, showmobile, tents, etc.).
“We have minimized fee increases, and we’ve tried to keep as many free and low cost recreation opportunities as possible, but we are eliminating valuable services that are going to put many organizations at a disadvantage. Equipment the District is no longer able to provide is available through the private sector. We’ve even been working with the private sector to possibly offer a reduced rate to these community organizations,” said Tim Dimke, Rockford Park District Executive Director. Other cuts include: elimination of Imagination Station, Cottontail Trail, and Camp Lone Oak, along with reduction of the cash voucher program to community partners.
The 2017 operating budget is $34,879,152, and the 2017 capital expenditure budget is $19,039,837. The budget is balanced for the 108th consecutive year, within available resources, and is aligned to achieve the District’s Priority Results. For the past 30 days, the 2017 budget was available for the public to view at the Rockford Park District Webbs Norman Center, Cherry Valley District Library, Rockford Public Library, North Suburban Library, Ogle County Library, and Ida Public Library in Belvidere. A public hearing also took place before tonight’s vote.
In December, the Board of Commissioners gave the overall direction to create a budget based on the same tax dollars as 2016, meaning the District will not receive any additional tax dollars in the operating funds. The resulting tax rate is estimated to decrease from last year’s tax rate of $1.1629 to $1.1581. The Equalized Assessed Value (EAV), tax levy extension, and tax rates are only estimates, as the actual information will not be available until spring.
“With tonight’s vote, we have done the responsible thing for taxpayers, showing our commitment to fiscal responsibility as we anticipate a lower tax rate. The 2017 budget reflects a team effort to maintain our best in nation status despite our budgetary challenges, and we have fully leveraged the considerable talent of our dedicated workforce to achieve the goal,” said Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary. The Rockford Park District is committed to delivering a quality park and recreation system at a reasonable cost to residents and visitors. Due to a declining Equalized Assessed Value (EAV) year after year, along with some challenging weather years and increasing costs of doing business, the District has had to prioritize the best use of tax dollars.
2017 Budget Highlights
Reduction of Programs and Services:
· Cease providing support service equipment (bleachers, picnic tables, showmobile, tents, etc.), realigning impacted team members to open budgeted positions
· Eliminate Imagination Station and Cottontail Trail (free events)
· Elimination of Camp Lone Oak
· Various reductions in programming
· Administrative reductions in marketing and support services
· Reduction in cash voucher program to community partners
· Elimination of select full-time positions due to transferring of employees to open positions and retirement, resulting in a reduction in the overall number of full-time positions
· Indoor Sports Center expansion on Mercyhealth Sportscore Two campus complete in May 2017
· Full year of operation at UW Health Sports Factory
· Full year of operation for Snow Park at Alpine Hills
· Increase in fee revenue due to Bruce Munro exhibit at Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
· Increase in fee revenue for hockey leagues, private skate lessons, and golf memberships
· Implementation of a service charge to offset credit/debit card charges usage by customers
· Reduction of $224,000 in state revenues
· Move Customer Service from the Webbs Norman Center to the UW Health Sports Factory for increased hours of registration
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For nearly 40 years, the Rockford Park District Foundation has helped fundraise for people, projects, and places. The Foundation receives monetary, land, and various donations on behalf of the Park District, and administers the donations to ensure the donor’s intent is fulfilled. Donations are accepted online at www.rockfordparkdistrict.org/donate or by calling 815-987-1630.