Editor's note: The following is an open letter to McHenry County residents submitted by McHenry County Conservation District Board President Dave Kranz.
McHenry County Conservation District continues a long history of being responsive to the needs of our residents by holding itself fiscally accountable and by fulfilling its promise to preserve and protect open space, clean water, wildlife and outdoor recreation areas in McHenry County so current and future generations can enjoy them.
In recognition of the concerns of McHenry County residents over high property taxes, McHenry County Conservation District did not increase the total property taxes levied since 2013 and made a conscientious decision to make the 2017 levy abatement permanent with the 2018 levy. By electing to forego the inflationary property tax increases available under PTELL for more than seven years, the District has led by example, levying $2.8 million dollars less in property taxes, which is equivalent to 30% of the proposed FY 2020 operating budget.
On Thursday, April 18 as part of the regularly scheduled monthly board meeting, McHenry County Conservation District Board of Trustees, with a unanimous vote 7-0, approved the District’s FY 2020 operating budget.
McHenry County Conservation District accounts for approximately 2% of residential property tax bills in McHenry County. For every dollar a resident pays in property taxes, approximately $0.02 is paid to the District. Less than $0.01 goes for the purpose of managing and protecting land, water and wildlife that constitute the natural heritage of McHenry County. Slightly over $0.01 goes to service the Conservation District’s debt approved by the voters for the preservation of public open space, protection of wildlife habitat and public access improvements. The District does not have the same flexibility as the County or other units of government to fund operations and other services with other tax and non-tax options.
The FY 2020 Annual Budget includes total ‘non-debt’ related expenditures of $16.2 million, which represents a modest 1% decrease from the prior FY 2019. The FY 2020 Annual Budget can be viewed online at MCCDistrict.org http://bit.ly/MCCDTransparency.
The District’s programs, sites, facilities and services as proposed within the FY 2020 Budget, are an investment in McHenry County’s future. The associated benefits provide a return on investment (ROI) and return on environment (ROE) that is tangible, measurable and essential to sustaining the long-term health and viability of McHenry County.
The Conservation District will continue to assess needs, and with limited resources, work to protect our water, wildlife and way of life in McHenry County for current to future generations. This will be achieved by maintaining high-quality natural areas and excellence in service expectations with a continued commitment to cultivate strategic working partnerships for shared collaborative investments to successfully fulfill the conservation mission and land ethic as envisioned by the county’s citizens when the McHenry County Conservation District was first established.