Chicago Park District FY2016 Budget: Analysis and Recommendations

December 01, 2015

The Civic Federation supports the Chicago Park District’s proposed FY2016 operating budget of $458.1 million that reduces the District’s reliance on one-time revenue sources and accommodates increased employer pension contributions for the second year in a row while holding the property tax levy relatively flat. The budget balances the demands of increased pension funding while showing restraint in not unduly increasing the tax burden on Chicago residents.  

However, a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the reforms made to the District’s pension fund in 2014 may impact the financial stability of the District in coming years. The outcome of this lawsuit filed in the Cook County Circuit Court will be likely be linked to the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling on the City of Chicago’s Municipal and Laborers’ pension reforms.

While increased pension contributions were accommodated in the budget for the second year in a row with only a slight property tax increase, the Civic Federation urges the District to develop a publicly available long-term financial plan that will accommodate future pension contribution increases, reduce the use of one-time revenue sources and work toward completely eliminating the remaining structural deficit.

The Chicago Park District’s fiscal year begins January 1, 2016 and ends December 31, 2016.

Click here to read the press release for this analysis.