Many municipalities across the state are keeping a watchful eye on Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s proposal to cut 50 percent in what’s called the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF). In short, the LGDF are dollars generated locally that go to the state, and a percentage of those dollars are funneled back to the local government based on a particular formula.
To put some numbers to what we’re talking about here in Park Forest, about $1.1 million in LGDF dollars came to the Village in 2014.
What those dollars help the Village do is provide residents with the sorts of programs and services you've come to expect. The Village’s Finance Department has counted on those LGDF dollars as part of the budgeting process since 1969. Now, to help get the state out of the financial hole that Illinois finds itself in, Governor Rauner’s hope is to ask residents at the local level to dig in their pockets once again, despite the fact that it is no fault of local government that the state is so deep in debt.
When times got especially hard at the height of the economic downturn, Park Forest and many other forward-thinking municipalities tightened their belt. Park Forest was wise in its budgeting under the leadership of Finance Director Mary Dankowski, and we were able to weather the storm of tough economic times without having to make drastic cuts or impose hefty tax increases.
But should Governor Rauner’s proposal pass, that $1.1 million loss to Park Forest’s finances would mean one of three things: the cost gets passed on to residents in the form of a tax hike; programs and services many residents enjoy in Park Forest like the Park Forest Aqua Center, Nurses Plus, performing arts offerings, and even Fire and Police services could be on the chopping block; or some sort of combination of a tax increase and a cut in programs and services.
Village officials don’t want to have to choose any of those options and will fight against the raid the Governor is threatening on the Local Government Distributive Fund.
But the voice of the elected officials in Park Forest is not enough. The voices of residents, who could see tax increases or cuts in service, or both, are especially needed to send a loud and clear message to the Governor that this measure must come off the table. The state must find a way to address its financial matters through other means than registering a crippling blow to local governments. Park Forest kept its financial house in order and the state's failure to do the same shouldn't fall on the backs of local taxpayers.
Park Forest residents who don’t want to be asked to help make up that $1.1 million that could be lost should act quickly to contact legislators who represent Park Forest. Below are the names and contact details for each state senator and state representative representing Park Forest. Ask them, as Village officials are asking them, to fight for you in Springfield on this important issue.
Senator Hutchinson: 708-756-0882; firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Hastings: 708-283-4125; District19@senatorhastings.com
Representative Riley: 708-799-4364; email@example.com
Representative DeLuca: 708-754-7900; firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you like more information on this matter, or should you have questions, please reach me at the number listed below or Village Manager Tom Mick can be reached directly at 708-748-1129.
Mayor John A. Ostenburg