Citizens Advisory Committee on Village Finances Report Available Here

On April 12, 2010, the Village Board received the long–awaited report from the Citizens Advisory Committee on Village Finances. This exhaustive study of River Forest’s financial situation found a growing gap between revenues and expenditures that will, frankly, bankrupt the village in a few years unless revenues are increased substantially (the report doesn’t say this explicitly, but the ultimate collapse of River Forest’s finances and complete draining of its financial reserves is pretty obvious when you read the report).

Village expenses have already been cut to the bone, with 10 percent village staff laid off and pay freezes instituted for most staff — leaving the village seriously understaffed. The village’s fire department is at minimum staffing levels — anything lower and it will not comply with state and federal law.

See for yourself online or click here to download a PDF of the committee’s study. Don’t let its length deter you. Everything is summarized in the four–page Executive Summary, followed by 20 pages of narrative and data. Most of the report consists of exhibits that show all the public information the committee reviewed.

While we could argue all day about how the village got into this situation — part of the blame may rest with the decisions of previous village boards under President Frank Paris, part with expensive state–mandated police and fire pensions, and part with the Great Recession. The bottom line is that with any and all fat in the River Forest budget trimmed last fiscal year and the remainder trimmed in the Fiscal Year 2010–2011 budget approved April 26, the village must find major new sources of revenue. Since River Forest is not a home rule community, state law prevents the village from generating additional revenue without a referendum. If approved, the November 2 referendum to increase the village’s sales tax 1 percentage point will nearly close the budget deficits that loom after Fiscal Year 2010–2011. So please get the facts and read the committee’s nonpartisan study now to get a handle on the village’s fiscal situation.