Faced with growing uncertainty about future economic prospects, Naperville Park District officials have shortened a five-year financial plan to three years.
But even three years might be too long to provide an accurate forecast.
Finance director Sue Stanish pointed to rising inflation and staffing issues as challenges in trying to project what finances might look like in 2023 and beyond. She said inflation of 7% at the end of 2021 completely changed the outlook after the rate was 1.9% the year before.
“What happened with inflation is extraordinary,” she said. “We’re trying to make up for having fewer dollars than we’re generating to pay more right now.”
Based on the consumer price index and a cap on the tax levy, Stanish projected a $10 property tax hike next year for the average owner of a $412,000 home. . She said a similar increase would likely follow in 2024, although the CPI is harder to predict that far ahead.
Park District Executive Director Brad Wilson pointed to staffing issues that continue to hamper the ability to deliver services, especially with maintenance crews. Wilson said affordable fees are a priority for the district, as officials estimate a fee increase of 1% or 2% in each of the next three years.
“That’s really one of the biggest challenges for the district today is overall recruiting and filling positions,” Wilson said. “And once they’re here, retain the staff that we have.”
Stanish said 73% of the operating budget will be staff-related, including after planned increases of 3% this year and 4% next year that will be more performance-based. She said next year’s budget proposal will call for new hires for a digital marketing strategist and a project manager for the planning department.
Insurance rates will remain stable for a fifth straight year, Stanish said. But a 30% increase in fuel costs will be factored into the 2023 budget.
Based on attendance levels so far this year, Stanish said programming for 2023 will finally reach pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re doing our best to try to estimate where we’re going to be,” she said. “But the reality is that we need a flexible plan because I can guarantee that once our plan is approved there will be changes.”