Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly today released recommendations for the Chicago Park District's 2020 budget which include the expansion of existing programming, launch of new programmatic opportunities, and making unprecedented investments in Chicago neighborhoods.
Highlights of the proposal include:
- Increasing after-school programming including CPS non-attendance days.
- Creating summer work experience opportunities for teens, ages 13 to15 through the Sports and Recreation Leadership Apprentice Program
- Establish community sailing program at Monroe Harbor to expand awareness on water safety and recreation.
- Completion of the state-of-the-art, Gately Park Track and Field facility located in the Pullman and Roseland communities and capital improvements under the South Lakefront Framework Plan.
"This year has been one of accomplishments and challenges. In celebration of the District’s 85th anniversary, we continued to lay the groundwork for programs, policies and capital investments that will carry Chicago’s parks into the future. The 2020 proposed budget is the next step to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all residents, particularly our children. I am extremely proud of our accomplishments over the past year, including record program enrollments, the construction of unprecedented facilities on Chicago’s south and west sides and new agreements with our labor partners. I believe through hard work, thoughtful planning and building strong partnerships, we are able to overcome any challenges we may face and deliver meaningful resources and services to our parks, our neighborhoods and most importantly, the children and families of this city,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael Kelly. “
At $487 million, the Chicago Park District’s 2020 spending plan is 5% higher than the 2019 adopted budget. Part of this increase is due to an increase of $6.2 million in pension contributions. This increase is based on actuarial projections as the District begins a four year pension payment ramp up to help stabilize the pension fund. The District’s position continues to be that pension changes are critical to ensuring retirement security for our current employees and retirees by taking the necessary steps to raise the funded ratio of the pension fund. In 2020 the District expects an increase in TIF surplus funds that will be allocated to funding the District’s pension obligation.
The Chicago Park District will hold the line on day camp and other program fees while continuing to provide high-quality, engaging opportunities for children and teens. Families in need can still access more than $3 million in financial assistance in addition to built-in discounts realized through our tiered pricing structure.
Earlier this year, the Chicago Park District reached agreements with each of the 25 unions that represent its employees, including SEIU Local 73 which represents more than two-thirds of the District’s workforce. As a result, the 2020 proposed budget includes unprecedented wage increases for our lowest paid employees. The new labor agreements demonstrate a mutual respect for the District and the respective contributions of its employees. Also as part of the agreements, employees will contribute more to healthcare costs to assist with the District’s pension crisis.
At $324 million, property tax and personal property replacement tax remain the District’s largest sources of revenue. In 2020, the District proposes a nominal tax increase of $5 million that will cost the average homeowners $3.99. This increase is vital to the financial well-being of the District and quality of service provided in our parks.
In the coming year, the Chicago Park District will offer its new permit fee structure to ensure usage fees are set in an equitable manner. Our parks are for everyone and this new fee scale will help ensure that spaces are accessible and affordable in all communities. In addition, the District will continue to pursue sponsorships and partnerships that benefit the District and the children and families of Chicago.
The Chicago Park District proposed budget is available for viewing online at www.chicagoparkdistrict.com. Residents may offer comments and suggestions online or at a public hearing at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, December 4th at 541 N. Fairbanks in the 8th floor board room.