Park Districts Growing
by Robert Nichols, Commisioner Bensenville Park District
Latest Illinois tax extensions show park districts continuing to grow in number, percentage of total tax extended, and percentage of number of taxing districts. The complete 1973 figures show 296 park districts levied $154,607,859 or 4.7% of the total state extensions for local property taxes.
Again park districts ranked 4th in local taxpayer's support, topped by schools; cities, towns, and villages; and counties. The figures released by the Department of Local Government Affairs do not include revenue funds generated at the local level. In addition, referendum funds are represented only by the current levy and not the actual amount received in 1973.
Since park districts do not receive direct revenue sharing or operating funds from the state or federal government, these figures represent the major portion of actual park district budgets.
The 1973 breakdown included:
Cities, towns, and villages meanwhile taxed $2,618,733 for parks and $4,670,408 under the playground levies. It is interesting to note that over 56% of these funds were levied by just 17 communities. Of the total $161,892,000 levied in Illinois for local parks and recreation, 95.5% was levied by park districts.
Forest Preserves, Conservation and Conservatory districts levied an additional $27,070,721 or 0.81% of the total extensions. Amounts of funds received from local, state, and federal agencies as grants are not available at this time.
Several key observations might be in order for these 1973 figures.
1. While the total number of taxing districts is dropping, local taxpayers are still creating new park districts.
2. Local taxpayers are approving increased levels of park district taxation.
3. Local park boards in 1973 were not taking advantage of all the tax levies available to them.
Illinois Parks and Recreation 6 July/August, 1976
(Especially the recreation tax and the 1/2 of 1% capital levy.)
4. Park districts are among the top four concerns of the tax-paying public and they are growing.
5. Illinois taxpayers prefer to levy their park and recreation taxes through the separate park district system.
While most of this information might be well known to park commissioners and staff it is also clear that many citizens, state and federal officials have a different view of the importance of park districts in the management of local parks and recreation. You can help by seeing that they receive the facts as they are in the state and your local district. Individuals requiring more detailed information may contact the publication, Illinois Property Tax Statistics—1973, published by the Department of Local Government Affairs.
Illinois Parks and Recreation 7 July/August, 1976