Chicago Park District Releases 2013 Budget Proposals


Chicago Park District Superintendent Michael P. Kelly today released the District's 2013 budget recommendations which include a balanced budget that increases programming at neighborhood parks, invests in children and families, and reduces a longtime structural deficit without an increase in taxes and fees for Chicago residents after tackling a deficit of $16 million. The $410.9M spending plan is approximately 0.8% higher than the FY2012 budget.

“At the Chicago Park District, children come first,” said Kelly.  “And our number one priority is to keep programs affordable and accessible to children and their families, while ensuring the financial health of the agency.”

"Thousands of families count on park programs each day for sports, cultural and social enrichment.  This budget invests in those families by increasing neighborhood programming that keeps the young people of our communities safe, and engaged,” he said.

The District's proposed budget does more for families, without burdening them with higher taxes and park fees.  Programming and room rentals will remain flat at neighborhood parks, while program discounts continue for active duty personnel, their families and households with multiple children enrolled in Chicago Park District programs.  Fees are waived for active duty military personnel, for example, and their immediate family members receive a 10% discount on all programs.  Patrons registering multiple children will pay full price for the first child, and then enjoy a 10% discount on fees for each additional child. Finally, the 2013 budget allows for a $1 million investment in summer camp scholarships for families who are most in need.

In 2013, the Chicago Park District will add new programs, and expand some of its most popular ones to serve more children and families, including: 

- Park Family Wellness Initiative - Thanks to a grant from the Coca Cola Foundation, the Parks Family Wellness Initiative will go from serving 48,000 to approximately 125,000 over a three-year period.

- Urban Campers program - In 2013 this program will double in size, serving an estimated 820 children largely out of Northerly Island Park, the new urban camping hub.

- Lacrosse program - The Chicago Park District will provide access to this fast growing sport, with a goal of reaching at least 300 youth in its first year.

- Boxing programs - Funding has been set aside to increase Chicago Park District's boxing locations, and the number of participants served by at least 10 percent, for 2,100 children.

- Junior Bears programming - In partnership with the Chicago Bears, this highly successful program is expected to serve at least 2,000 youth and teens in 2013, up from 830 in 2012.

- Free golf for youth - In partnership with Billy Casper golf, the District will offer free golf for children at courses in targeted communities with the hope of attracting those who may not have otherwise been introduced to the sport.

The upcoming budget will also strengthen weekend family-oriented programming, and in 2013 the District will launch an expanded “Night Out in the Park” series, which will feature such popular programs as Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks, Circus in the Parks, Movies in the Parks and more.

In order to better serve its customers, the 2013 budget allows for a greater investment in marketing, technology and staff training to increase public awareness in targeted communities, and allow for greater productivity and efficiency in serving and communicating to the Park District’s customer base.

Revenue increases expected from Soldier Field, Lollapalooza and permit fees

Outside of property tax levy ($261 million), the Chicago Park District's greatest revenues will come from Soldier Field, harbors, golf courses, parking and the concession program.  Revenues from Soldier Field, budgeted at $29.1 million will include the highly anticipated Hockey Classic in February, the Taylor Swift concert in August, and the University of Illinois-Washington game in September.  

At $25.1 million, harbors remain one the District's greatest revenue generators, though fees charged to boaters will remain flat, and even lower in some cases as the industry begins to regain steam.  Customers residing outside of Chicago, who dock at the new award-winning 31st Street Harbor will benefit from a moratorium on non-resident fees - an attractive proposal to boaters in neighboring cities and suburbs who seek a slip or mooring on Chicago's beautiful lakefront.  

The District's sponsorship program is expected to realize an estimated $1.3 million in new revenue, while permit fees are budgeted at $9.8 million.  Because of a revised deal last spring, guaranteed income from the Lollapalooza Festival alone will bring parks $2.7 million, plus millions of dollars more in amusement tax to the city and Cook County.

The Chicago Park District proposed budget is now available for viewing online. Hard copies will be available at 10 parks citywide.  Citizens may offer comments and suggestions online, or at a public hearing on Wednesday, December 5, 541 N. Fairbanks Ct., at 4 p.m., in the 8th floor board room. Patrons must sign up in advance of 4 p.m. to speak publicly.


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