The municipal budget for 2022 is one of recovery from the impacts of COVID-19, with particular focus on improvements to critical infrastructure that were delayed as revenue fell and resources were redirected to address the immediate local needs caused by a worldwide pandemic.
Taking care of the public infrastructure essential to everyday life like roads, alleys and water and sewer systems is at the top of the list in 2022 funding. Much of the funding for these projects will come from federal dollars allocated to help local governments get back to delivering fundamental services.
Projects planned for 2022 include long-overdue repairs to the Village’s three fire stations, upgrading parking garage technology, replacing the Village’s aging vehicle fleet to incorporate electric vehicle options, and managing an urban forest of more than 18,000 trees on public property.
Oak Park’s 2022 municipal budget also allocates resources to pursuing overall goals associated with sustainability. Long-term planning is underway not only to manage future impacts of climate change but also help residents pay for improvements to their homes that can reduce utility bills and reduce the community’s carbon footprint.
Equity is in the 2022 budget, too. Funding is now in place to bring in a professional equity manager to view vital, yet routine municipal practices like hiring, purchasing and overall public policy making through the lens of equity and affordability.
The 2022 budget is comprised of 35 funds and $160.3 million in expenditures, excluding interfund transfers. Each fund is dedicated to a particular type of outlay, typically defined in state and local law, such as debt service, insurance, pensions and capital improvements.
The largest of these funds — the General Revenue Fund — supports most day-to-day municipal operations that are critical to quality of life in the community, including public works and public safety services like roadway maintenance and emergency responses.
Nearly two thirds of all general fund allocations in 2022 will support the Police and Fire departments who are on call around the clock to protect and save lives.
Another 10 percent of all 2022 General Fund dollars will go to the Public Works Department, whose workers maintain the 100 miles of Village-owned streets, 500 alleys, 18,000 parkway trees, 7,000 lighting fixtures, 104 miles of water mains, 110 miles of sewer mains, eight miles of bicycle lanes and some 4,000 public parking spaces.
Other General Revenue dollars fund economic development, information technology and the Oak Park Department of Public Health, one of only a handful of state-certified municipal public health departments in Illinois.
Municipal expenditures from the General Fund are supported by a number of sources including property taxes, sales taxes, user fees, utility taxes and real estate transfer taxes.
While property taxes will fund about 48 percent of General Fund expenditures in 2022, only 9.8 percent of an Oak Park property owner’s tax bill goes toward funding Village municipal services. State-mandated Police and Fire pensions comprise another 5.9 percent of the local property tax bill.
Most municipal fees, including parking, remained unchanged for 2022. However, water and sewer rates will increase in 2022, due in part to the rising cost of purchasing Lake Michigan water from the City of Chicago.
Water rates will increase slightly to $10.30 per 1,000 gallons used, up from $10.10 in 2021. Sewer rates, which are also based on water use, are now $2.95 per 1,000 gallons of water used, up from $2.90. A share of water and sewer fees also help fund maintenance and improvements to the Village’s water and sewer systems.
Waste collection for residential buildings with five or fewer units that are served by the Village’s waste hauling contractor will not increase in 2022. The new vendor was selected through a competitive bidding process and will take over local services in April. A story about the new vendor appears on the last page of this newsletter.
Information on the budget process and copies of the Fiscal Year 2022 and past year’s budgets are posted at www.oak-park.us/budget.