Local News

Will County Forest Preserve Board approves 2018 budget

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A forest preserve bike path.[]

The Forest Preserve District of Will County’s Board of Commissioners approved its 2018 budget on Thursday.

The balanced $47 million budget features a $1 million capital enhancement plan for preserve and trail improvements, according to a news release.

“We’ll continue to focus on enhancing and improving preserves and trails to better accommodate visitors and expand opportunities to enjoy the forest preserve system,” Forest Preserve COO Ralph Schultz said in the news release.

The budget also includes $16.7 million in operating expenses and a $13.8 million corporate fund property tax levy, which pays for district operations in 2018. The corporate property tax rate goes down to 0.0678 from this year’s extension of 0.0702, a 3.4 percent reduction. The district continues to maintain an AA-plus credit rating for the seventh year in a row.

There also will be a $300,000 appropriation for the district’s infrastructure, maintenance and replacement program, which will expand to include bridge and shelter rehabilitation.

“Our commitment to maintaining and enhancing our existing forest preserves helps us protect the investment our communities have made in their forest preserves,” Board President Suzanne Hart said.

There is $759,000 in the budget for a $2.6 million project, a major regional trail connection along Black Road that links the DuPage River Trail in Shorewood with the Rock Run Greenway Trail in Joliet. The link will include pedestrian bridges over both Interstate 55 and the DuPage River. The project primarily is funded by two federal grants from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The budget includes other projects like a new shelter at the Isle a la Cache Preserve in Romeoville, an upgrade to the trailhead at Schneider’s Passage along the Centennial Trail in Romeoville, and the construction of a nearly mile-long section of the Normantown Trail from 111th Street south to Rockwell Lane in Wheatland Township.