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Park District budget has no tax hikes or new fees but increases permit fees

  • 31st Street Harbor
31st Street Harbor (Todd Panagopoulos/ Chicago…)
December 12, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco

The Chicago Park District on Monday released its proposed budget online, showing no new fees or property tax increases for 2013.

"Our number one priority is to keep programs affordable and accessible to children and their families, while ensuring the financial health of the agency," Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly said in a letter included in the budget.

The $410.9 million budget, which is slightly more than the $407 million budgeted for 2012, relies in part on Soldier Field, harbors, parking and golf courses for revenue.

For example, revenue from Soldier Field is budgeted at $29.1 million due to events such as February's Hockey Classic, Taylor Swift concert in August, and the football game of the Fighting Illini versus University of Washington Huskies in September. 

The budget also factors in the $2.7 million from Lollapalooza, which officials are planning to use for its operating expenses to help balance the budget. Other measures proposed include establishing a corporate sponsorship program, activating a digital billboard along the inbound Kennedy Expressway, cutting 32 full-time positions, and increasing permit fees.

"The Park District will focus on generating additional revenue from large scale events in order to keep fees for our programs affordable," according to the budget.

Program fees, room rentals and boater fee rates would stay flat in 2013. 

The park district admits harbor revenue failed to meet what was budgeted in 2012 due to a "slight dip in occupancy rates" blamed on the economy. The park district wants to implement a new marketing plan via social media and target competing marinas to increase use of the harbors.

Boaters who live outside of Chicago and dock at 31st Street Harbor, which opened this past spring, would get relief from a moratorium on the non-resident surcharge through the 2015 season. 

But drivers beware. The district is banking on getting 13.7 percent more revenue from parking fees compared to the 2012 budget.

A private vendor, which installs and maintains the park district's pay and display parking boxes and collects parking revenue, plans to identify new areas in 2013 to install the pay and display units and beef up parking enforcement. The district wants to increase the number of parking spots at North Avenue beach and Diversey driving range and tennis courts.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Dec. 5.

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