Covering non-recurring expenditures with cash reserves allowed River Forest officials to present a balanced general fund budget for Fiscal Year 2024 to the village board April 10.

Estimated total revenues for FY2024 are about $19.3 million up from about $18.2 in FY2023. Estimated total expenditures for FY2024 are about $20 million up from $18.5 million in FY2023. 

A deficit of $670,755 is due to $731,361 in non-recurring expenditures, which will be covered by reserves. The budget shows a surplus of $60,606.

The fiscal year starts May 1 and ends April 30, 2024. 

Matt Walsh, acting village administrator, and Rosemary McAdams, finance director, presented the budget at committee of the whole meeting April 10. A public hearing on the budget was held during the regularly scheduled village board meeting that followed. 

Estimated property tax, state sales tax, non-home rule sales tax, income tax and other revenues are all projected to increase in FY2024.

Among the revenue highlights, property tax revenue is estimated at $7,007,350 for FY2024, up from $6,931,715 in FY2023, while state sales tax revenue is estimated at $2,376,327 for FY2024, up from $2,112,388 in FY2023.

Non-home rule sales tax revenue is estimated at $1,059,449 for FY2024, up from $880,440 in FY2023, while state shared income tax revenue is estimated at $1,820,822 for FY2024, up from $1,550,159 in FY2023.

McAdams said the village is in a “strong financial position,” noting that she still expects an increase in revenues despite “conservative” estimates. 

One revenue area that saw a significant increase is ambulance fees, estimated at $2 million for FY2024, up from $510,000 in FY2023 due to the village entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services to participate in the Illinois Ground Emergency Medical Transport Program. 

Estimated salaries and benefits, commodities and contractual expenditures in the general fund are all up for the coming fiscal year. In addition, $300,000 was budgeted as a capital outlay for anticipated changes expected from the village-wide traffic study that is currently under way. 

Salaries and benefits expenditures are estimated at $13,941,957, up from $13,437,395 in FY2023; contractual services expenditures are estimated at $4,291,903 for FY2024, up from $3,919,463 in FY2023; and commodities expenses are estimated at $653,112 for FY2024, up from $369,247 in FY2023. 

At 69.81 percent of the budgeted expenditures, salaries and benefits continue to be the largest expenditure for the general fund. The increase in commodities expenditures is partially due to the $190,000 expenditure for police body cameras, although Walsh said the village is still pursuing grant opportunities.

Capital improvement expenditures include $206,370 for new police squad cars, $630,000 for new public works trucks and $1.2 million for street resurfacing. 

Over half of the street resurfacing funding, $736,279, will come from a Rebuild Illinois grant. 

Jeff Loster, director of public works and development services, said streets currently identified for resurfacing as part of the project are Augusta Street between Thatcher and Harlem avenues; William Street between Augusta and Chicago Avenue; Hawthorne Avenue between Forest and Franklin avenues; and Thatcher between Hawthorne and Madison Street. 

The Rebuild Illinois grant funds were issued in six disbursements of $122,713 over a three-year period, concluding in FY2023. The project will be similar to the village’s annual street improvement project but must be accounted for separately. Funds not expended by July 1, 2025, will be forfeited.

The remaining street resurfacing funds will be used for the village’s annual street resurfacing program, which Loster said will include Park Avenue between North Avenue and Greenfield Street; Franklin between North and Greenfield; Bonnie Brae Place between Augusta and Chicago; Clinton Place between Chicago and Oak Avenue; Clinton between Lake Street and Central Avenue; and Keystone Avenue between Oak and Lake. 

Police and fire pension obligations in FY 2024 are projected to decrease. Village officials explained that the decrease — from $1,959,903 in FY2023 to $1,921,246 for FY2024 for police and from $1,733,600 in FY2023 to $1,726,278 in FY2024 for fire – is due to a change in methodology based on a programming change made by the actuarial consultant. 

In addition, officials previously expressed the hope that the recent consolidation of roughly 650 local pension funds for suburban and downstate police officers and firefighters into two statewide funds would lead to higher investment returns and lower future pension contributions. 

A 22% increase in the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center (WSCDC) expenditure sparked one of the few discussions during the budget presentation. Walsh explained that the increase from $224,144 to $275,285 year over year was due to the decrease in participating agencies. 

When Forest Park joined WSCDC in 2017, there were five agencies sharing the cost. Since then, Elmwood Park and Park Ridge dropped out, leaving River Forest sharing expenses with Forest Park and Oak Park. 

Walsh said WSCDC officials are trying to attract other communities to join and share expenses. Another option would be to join another co-op with other west suburban communities, he added. 

Trustee Katie Brennan also asked that the village not increase the composting fee as planned.

“We want to encourage composting,” she said. “It supports the village’s image of being in favor of sustainability.” 

Adoption of the budget is expected at the April 24 village board meeting.

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