Conservation District Budget – Part 2 Real Estate Taxes Up 1%, Wages Up 4.4%

Here are the highlights of the McHenry County Conservation District’s proposed budget.

The McHenry County Board has only a up or down vote.

Word is that McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks has asked for the MCCD budget to be reduced by 5%.

FY 2018 Tentative Budget Highlights

General Fund

The General Fund accounts for the activities related to the regular, on-going business of the District. These include:

  • the maintenance of sites and trails
  • the policing of sites
  • trails and conservation areas
  • the restoration and maintenance of natural areas
  • the preservation and
  • protection of land, flora and fauna, and providing educational and other public programs.

Property tax revenues account for 83% of the fund’s total annual revenue.

The FY 2018 Budget is consistent with the Board of Trustee’s budgetary guidelines which include:

1. Developing the FY 2018 budget with a ‘zero-based’ budget methodology requiring all department managers to start with “0.00” in each of the expense line items under their budgetary control. Specific costs and detailed descriptions are required to support every expense requested in the FY 2018 budget. Each departmental budget is then reviewed line-by-line by the Executive Leadership Team to ensure that the requested expense makes the most efficient use of financial resources and supports the objectives as established within District’s strategic plan.

2. The budget is balanced with operational revenues supporting operational expenses. The only exceptions include requests for the ‘re-appropriation’ of projects/items which were budgeted for in the prior year, but were not completed.

3. A minimum fund balance is maintained which represents 25% or three (3) months of the total annual operating budget (excluding capital and appropriations of reserve fund balances).

o Total revenues increased by $76,754 or .9% over the prior year. This includes an increase in property tax revenue of $74,003 or 1% over the prior year. The property tax increase is more than offset by a property tax reduction in the Debt Service Fund.

o Total operating expenses (excluding appropriations from reserves) increased by the same $76,754 or .9% over the prior year.

o Total wages are budgeted to increase by 4.4% from the prior year. Wage increases include the following:

1. A 2% economic wage increase has been budgeted for all non-contractual and non-bargaining employees. A 2% wage increase has also been included for the International Union Of Operating Engineers – Local 150 collective bargaining employees within the Sites & Fleet and Facilities departments in accordance with the terms of their collective bargaining contract.

2. In 2016, the District retained an independent consultant to complete a compensation market study. The ‘market’ is defined as the average of what other local/regional government sector employers are paying their employees in similar jobs. (The most recent previous compensation study was completed in 2011.) The 2016 study showed that the District’s compensation structure had fallen significantly behind the market since the 2011 study, with some positions paid as much as 15% below the market average. The study also revealed that the District’s lower paid positions had a much greater disparity to the market than the higher paid positions, which had generally kept pace. This FY 2018 Budget includes $119,121 to implement a new salary grade structure for all positions (both bargaining and non-bargaining). The cost represents a 2.6% increase in the total annual cost of wages. Only (23) of the (77) full-time employees (75 full-time employees are included within the General Fund) will receive an increase from the new salary structure; the vast majority of which are in positions that are compensated in the lower half of the District’s current salary structure.

3. The District is currently in negotiations with the police officers who are members of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) bargaining group. Their contract expires March 31, 2017 and this FY 2018 Budget includes the costs associated with increasing the police wage matrix to align it with the results of the 2016 compensation market study.

o $208,000 has been appropriated from unrestricted fund balance and include:

1. $163,000 for reappropriations; appropriations approved in the prior budget for capital items specific to building maintenance and improvements not completed but considered important.

2. $45,000 for unanticipated expenditures.

o Total employee health insurances, including; health, vision, dental and life, are budgeted to increase by 6.2%. This includes a ‘net’ contractual increase for health insurance of just 4.6%.

o The budget does not include the replacement of any vehicles, as none are due to be replaced under the most recent update of the District’s 10-Year Capital Asset Management Plan (CAMP).


Conservation District Budget – Part 2 Real Estate Taxes Up 1%, Wages Up 4.4% — 4 Comments

  1. Meaning Jack Franks asked the Conservation District to reduce the budget 5% from last years budget?

    Not a 10% reduction from last years budget?


    Did previous County Board Chairs operate in such a fashion?

    Or how was any budget guidance from the County Board to the Conservation District done in the past?

  2. IMHO the issue with MCCD and budgets is that we have had successive Chairmen from the urban part of the County – Tryon, Koehler, Hill and Gottemoller who did absolutely NOTHING to slow down down the Hackmatack train.

    Now you have a dufus (“round mound”) who lives in rural McHenry who does not have the same ‘tree hugger’ attitude as evidenced by his support of the Com Ed attempt to exercise a ‘chainsaw massacre’.

  3. Re: “the policing of sites”

    Is the wildlife in this County better protected than the people in Rockford? Chicago? Crystal Lake? Harvard?

  4. With respect to the Study that was undertaken, I would be concerned that the comparisons of like-positions were comparable in both duties/years of experience level/total comp package (including health and retirement benefits).

    But the bigger issue I have is with the response to the study.

    Rather than looking at that report and concluding that the Conservation District has a problem underpaying people, I might argue that they are doing a better job at managing their labor cost structure than the organizations they are comparing themselves to.

    Why should they assume that they have the problem?

    Arbitrarily jacking up your labor costs simply because another poorly operated, neighboring government body is over-paying its employees to perform the same job is just flat-out dumb.

    This is how you get the 29th highest taxed county in the country.

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