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MCCD trustees approve budget

Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 5:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 4, 2014 10:03 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A bill that would give the McHenry County Conservation District a way to bring in more revenue made its way out of committee Thursday, the same day its Board of Trustees unanimously approved a budget riddled with cuts.

The budget, which is for the fiscal year that started Tuesday and still needs County Board approval, is designed to address looming revenue shortages.

The conservation district is expected to lose an estimated $2 million in property tax revenue over the next five years as declining property values lower the maximum the district is allowed to levy for its general fund.

The approved budget, which is for the fiscal year that started Tuesday, is based on the assumption that the district will hit its levy cap this fiscal year based on projections that the county's estimated assessed value will fall another 8 percent, meaning the district would bring in $72,000 less in property taxes.

Total revenues are estimated to fall by $315,000, or by about 3.5 percent, according to the draft budget.

While the proposed budget carries a deficit of about $420,000, it also proposes changes to employee compensation, fewer capital improvements and the elimination of programs, including the popular Trail of History event at Glacial Park.

A bill making its way through the Illinois Senate would give the conservation district a way of raising its levy beyond its current maximum levy cap.

An amended version of the bill was unanimously passed out of committee Thursday would require the district to take its request to the voters and would not exempt them from the limits placed on how much governments can raise their levies by in a year.

"This rate increase is necessary if the District is to broaden its mission to preserve, restore, maintain and provide public access to historic structures of cultural significance on properties owned by the District," District Executive Director Elizabeth Kessler said in a news release.

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