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Kane County Board poised to OK $375K in riverboat cash for forest preserve district

GENEVA – Kane County could sign off on a proposal to send $375,000 in riverboat money to the Kane County Forest Preserve District to help the district increase its operational budget over the next two years without asking property taxpayers for more.

Wednesday, the Kane County Board’s Finance and Budget Committee recommended the full board approve the special transfer. The measure also was backed by Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen.

The request came to the County Board after the forest preserve district determined it would need $150,000 more in 2014 and perhaps $225,000 in 2015 to fully fund operations at its properties throughout Kane County.

Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles, who also serves as chairman of the County Board’s Finance Committee, said the district has greatly increased its land holdings from 4,500 acres a few years ago to more than 20,000 acres.

He said the district needs to bump its operations budget by a little more than 1 percent to pay its workers and cover costs associated with the additional land holdings.

Hoscheit said the increase in the budget would have increased property tax bills in the county by about $1 a year per home if it were to be paid entirely from property taxes.

But Hoscheit noted that some on the forest preserve district’s board of commissioners, which includes all Kane County Board members, questioned the need to increase the tax levy even by that much.

To appease those members, Hoscheit suggested the county grant the district the money from the county’s riverboat fund.

That money comes from yearly payments to Kane County from the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. The payments are based on the casino’s annual earnings.

Hoscheit said the money would be used only as a “bridge” over the next two years, until bonds issued by the forest preserve district are paid off, giving taxpayers about $40 a year in relief and giving the district a little more financial flexibility.

“I think this is a reasonable compromise on this issue,” Hoscheit said.

The matter will proceed next to the Kane County Board’s Executive Committee on Wednesday. 

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