Naperville Park District’s tax levy could rise 6.8%   

Exterior of Naperville Park District office building
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The Naperville Park District’s 2023 property tax levy could increase 6.8%, based on preliminary information shared at the most recent board of commissioners meeting. This year’s proposed levy has been set at $24.65 million; last year’s was $23.08 million.

The park board unanimously approved a resolution establishing an estimate for the 2023 corporate and special purpose levy at the Nov. 9 meeting. The vote was a precursor to next month’s vote on an ordinance that will be forwarded on to clerks in DuPage and Will counties by the end of December.

Park district levy rate increase tentative

The park district’s levy could be adjusted down from the 6.8% increase, depending on the actual amount of new valuation growth from construction. The district’s levy makes up about 5% of a Naperville taxpayer’s overall bill.

A memo from Executive Director Brad Wilson and Director of Finance Sue Stanish explains the methodology behind the 6.8% levy hike at this time.

“Consistent with past practice, the levy estimate/request is estimated at a higher amount than what we expect to receive, in order to capture any new valuation growth,” Wilson and Stanish wrote. “At the time the levy ordinance is approved, new construction and final EAV (equalized assessed value) numbers are not known.”

The reason behind the proposed rate increase, Wilson and Stanich wrote, is “a means to ensure that taxes are equitably spread across all new construction districtwide.”

Park district expenses continue to rise amid inflation

It has been a familiar refrain in recent years and is expected to continue throughout 2024. Depending on the specific line item, district officials anticipate cost increases of up to 30% on the expense side of the financial ledger.

“We’re trying to absorb and fit in increasing costs of 5-30%, literally across all departments,” Stanish said.

Next year’s park district budget is pegged at $51.5 million, including the two largest categories: operating expenses ($34 million) and capital expenses ($14.5 million).

Several initiatives — some more visible than others — are anticipated in the 2024 budget. Wilson said the district’s spending proposal includes funds for an indoor recreation space needs assessment, which has been discussed in recent years.

“This is a major undertaking for the district next year,” Wilson said. “It’s one of the major strategic initiatives for 2024. We’re going to bring in an outside consulting team to assist the district in really evaluating our overall use of current facilities, where those gaps are at, what the greatest community needs are, and getting a better understanding as to the community’s willingness to support — financially — moving forward with any indoor recreation space.”

In terms of actual capital projects, district officials plan to allocate funds for eight playground renovations — a higher amount than the 5 to 6 renovations earmarked in an average year.

“We inspect all of our parks frequently,” Stanish said. “If things come up, and it’s time to do early renovations … it is evaluated.”

User fees also expected to increase

Taxes comprise 56% of the district’s total revenue. User fees are the second highest source of income, meaning adjustments on that end of the equation are also anticipated.

At Centennial Beach, for instance, Wilson indicated anticipated fee increases. A daily pass is expected to rise $1, while annual memberships are expected to increase 5%. Over at the Springbrook and Naperbrook golf courses, seasonal memberships are poised to increase 7%. Several specific program fees also are expected to rise to keep pace with expenses.

“There’s always a balance between those two revenue sources of maintaining affordability … but also, when needed, accounting for higher cost to put those programs on,” Stanish added.

At first blush, the park board was supportive of the proposed figures.

“I know all of us commissioners take tax dollars and the stewardship over the tax dollars very seriously,” board member Rich Janor said. “I intend to support this, and I appreciate all of the thought and effort that went into putting it together.”

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