In an effort to provide relief to Highland Park property owners, the Park Board of Commissioners approved a Truth in Taxation Resolution for a 0% increase for the Park District’s 2021 tax levy. As a result, the Park District plans to levy $11,743,050 in 2021, keeping the percent increase flat in comparison to 2020. The Park District’s portion of residents’ property tax is approximately 7%.
“This has been an exceptionally challenging year for our residents,” said Barney Ruttenberg, president of the Park Board of Commissioners. “Throughout the pandemic, the Park District has adjusted its operations and programming to provide safe and healthy recreational outlets for our community’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. We feel it is our responsibility to do more for our residents struggling with the financial ramifications of this on-going pandemic. Through careful planning and cost-saving strategies, we can keep our tax levy flat for 2021 to provide much-needed relief for our residents during this unprecedented time.”
The 2021 Park District flat tax levy includes a combination of a 2.3% Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase in its “tax capped funds,” new growth estimated to be approximately $25 million, and a reduction in the Special Recreation Fund levy from .04% to .0245%. The Special Recreation Fund is used for the Park District’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) capital improvements, member fees for the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association (NSSRA), and program inclusion fees for participants with special needs. Due to COVID-19, there was a reduction in Special Recreation Fund expenses in 2020. As a result, $682,550.32 will be added to the Special Recreation Fund’s balance in 2021, allowing the Park District to lower the 2021 Levy for this Fund.
“Because of the decreased expenditures in 2020, the reduction in the 2021 Special Recreation Fund levy will not reduce our ability to continue with planned ADA capital improvements, complete projects that require ADA accommodations in the coming years, or meet obligations to NSSRA, including support for the renovation of their new administrative building,” said Brian Romes, executive director of the Park District of Highland Park.
“It is our goal to continue creating a safe environment for our residents while creating innovative ways to participate in recreational programs and services. Through efficient and fiscally responsible planning, we aspire to ensure the Park District will continue providing essential recreational outlets for our residents in the short and long-term as our community and our country perseveres through this difficult time,” said Ruttenberg.