Park District Makes Two

While I don’t follow the PD budget process, I guess I should so I would have seen this coming:

From an Art Jaros comment at DGreport:

Mark,  Our levy meeting was televised on Channel 6 and, during our discussion, we specifically referred to our Mayor’s comment posted elsewhere here at dgreport.com to the effect that this is no time to be raising taxes.   The five person Park Board was unanimous in voting to reduce the Park District’s own share of the combined levy from its 2007 level so that the total combined SEASPAR/Park District levy total would be frozen at the government level,  and, thereby meaning that  existing (pre-2008) District taxpayers would actually experience a tax decrease (since some of the frozen amount of tax dollars would now be shifted onto new property coming on line into the District’s tax base).

So that’s two taxing bodies that get it, that seem to be in tune with taxpayers concerns for the coming year.  The PD board is holding off on some items, as well as biting the bullet on a 7% SEASPAR budget increase.

SEASPAR’s budget is a component of the Park District budget, and it is spread over several different taxing bodies.  Those taxing bodies don’t seem to have the ability to provide input and direction for levy amounts, and are presented a “take it or leave it” final product that they don’t really have any control over.  The DGPD representative was the sole vote against the SEASPAR budget.  Similarly, the Library budget is a component of the village budget, and it has increased at or near the maximum allowable rate year after year.

That leaves the two school districts.  99 is looking for a 6.6% increase, and 58 pretty much the same % increase as 99.

All of these boards are elected or appointed tax paying residents of the districts.  How can half of them act one way and trim expenses, gird to weather the economic storm, and the other half act the opposite, and put in for the maximum increase?

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7 Responses to “Park District Makes Two”

  1. C. Grammich Says:

    How do these bodies compare in broad budget categories, e.g., personnel and other costs? I doubt such comparison would explain the difference (or much of it), but it would still be interesting to see.

  2. markthoman Says:

    The village is roughly 70%. District 58 was, I believe 75%. District 99 was a bit over 75%. Park District appears to be a very low 15% of the total budget, but I can’t tell if I’m accounting for every personnel expense. The library runs around 70% of budget expenses for personnel, according to the village budget fund summaries.

  3. C. Grammich Says:

    I’d thought the school districts were closer to 80 percent, but I may be wrong. The most recent report for SEASPAR that I found indicates its personnel expenses comprise 68 percent of its budget. Given its clientele, I was surprised to see it was that low.

  4. markthoman Says:

    There may be personnel related expenses that I didn’t catch, but the 99 consolidated report is pretty straightforward in that regard, and 75% was the figure I recall being bandied about at the 58 presentation.

  5. C. Grammich Says:

    Could be. I trust your memory more than mine.

    I’m hoping Art Jaros has something authoritative to say about personnel costs as a proportion of total costs in the park district. I know, at present, it is difficult to hire and retain employees who deal with persons like those SEASPAR serves. I don’t know if that is causing SEASPAR costs to increase more than those for other taxing bodies.

  6. Art Jaros Says:

    Responding to queries above concerning relative size of the D.G. Park District’s personnel costs, the District reports two basic categories for such costs: “Personnel” and “Contractual Services.” Included in the latter category are the following:

    the District’s share of Insurance expense for Employees, Instructional Services, Recreational Program Services, Professional & Consulting Services, and Building & Equipment Repair Services. Combining these two categories, we see that Personnel is roughly 2/3 of the total and Contractual Services 1/3 of the total. Together they make up 75% of our total accrual basis expenses. Eliminating non-cash depreciation expense and interest expense from total accrual basis expenses (my term: “adjusted accrual basis operating expenses” ), these two categories then make up 90%, rather than 75%, of adjusted accrual basis operating expenses.

    For the two most recent fiscal years ending 5/31/07 and 5/31/08, tax revenues fell from just over 61% of total revenues to just under 60% of total revenues, even as total revenues were increasing from $10.6 mil to $11.4 mil.

    Taking into account operating and interest expenses, the District generated roughly 2.0 mil of cash in each of those years, available to be used (i) for the payment of principal on bonds ($825K 5/31/07; $450K 5/31/08) and (ii) for capital improvements and replacements. The District has no “tax-increase” G.O. bonds left outstanding; all bonded indebtedness is in the form of Alternate Revenue Source (“Double Barrel”) bonds which must be paid out of existing tax-capped revenues and contain a taxpayer guaranty only as a “last resort.”

  7. Art Jaros Says:

    The sunglassed smiley face (above) should read ” 5/31/08″ ” ).”


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