Lower Tax Rate Again for Rockford Park District Taxpayers
The Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners has voted to hold the line on taxes and maintain the 2017 tax levy, meaning the District will not receive any additional tax dollars in its operating funds.
This is the fourth year in a row the Rockford Park District has elected to not increase tax dollars which will now result in $1.7 million savings to taxpayers. “Holding the line on taxes is the responsible thing to do for taxpayers. We understand that our role in enhancing the community goes beyond providing a nationally-renowned park district; we must also live within our means. We are pleased to do our part in making this community a great place to live,” said Rockford Park District Board of Commissioners President Ian Linnabary.
Even during the recession, the District has been able to consistently provide outstanding park and recreational offerings to our community; however, with declining revenue both through fees and a declining tax base, along with population and demographic shifts, it is becoming more difficult to provide the same level of service without an increase in revenue or a decrease in its footprint. This year, the District faced another $1 million deficit, and due to holding the line on taxes and a continued revenue shortfall, the District will have to reduce services for 2018. “We are at the point where unfortunately, we can’t continue to sustain all aspects of District operations, and have no choice but to make tough yet strategic decisions regarding recreational opportunities,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine.
The District followed Board direction to prepare a levy for the operating funds for 2017 equal to the 2016 levy extension. Some taxpayers might even see a small tax decrease in the amount of property taxes they pay to the Rockford Park District. The resulting tax rate is estimated to decrease from last year’s tax rate of $1.1544 to $1.1362. After several years of continued decline in the District’s Equalized Assessed Value (EAV), the District is experiencing a slight uptick. Based on preliminary EAV information, the estimated increase is 2.1% as compared to the 2016 Equalized Assessed Value for Winnebago, Boone, and Ogle counties. However, this is subject to change due to tax protests and appeals. EAV, tax levy extension, and tax rates are only estimates, as the actual information will not be available until spring. The proposed budget will be available for public review at area libraries over the next month, and a public hearing will be held at 5:00 p.m. on January 16, 2018. Formal approval of the 2018 budget will also take place at the January 16, 2018 board meeting.
Master Plan Engagement Sessions Begin in New Year
As a result of a reduction in services for 2018, the District will launch a master plan to engage the community to determine District long-term priorities and allocation of resources of taxpayer dollars. A community involved master plan will provide a series of recommendations that will help guide investment in District assets, along with decisions regarding obsolete, underutilized, or non-trending parks, facilities, and amenities. “A master plan will provide an opportunity for the District to engage and inform the community on the true value of parks and recreation, receive critical feedback to determine priorities of park services, and ensure we’re aligning plans with the vision of other community leaders and organizations,” said Rockford Park District Executive Director Jay Sandine. Feedback sessions will be held beginning in February of 2018. Dates and locations are still being finalized. A final master plan is expected to be presented to the community in the summer of 2018.