BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
On November 29, Cherry Hills Village made the final payment due to South Suburban Parks and Recreation District (SSPR) from a $10 million debt it incurred 18 years ago.
In 2002 CHV residents voted to be excluded from SSPR. They also agreed to add 7.422 mills to their property tax bills to acquire the parks and open space owned by SSPR in CHV’s city boundaries, as well as to pay CHV’s share of then outstanding SSPR general obligation bond indebtedness. With that obligation fully satisfied late last year, just over $1 million in annual revenue will become available for parks, trails, open space, and recreation related projects and expenses starting in 2020.
While that is a significant amount of money, future park-related maintenance and capital costs are also significant. They include expenses related to Quincy Farm, John Meade Park, Alan Hutton Memorial Commons, High Line Canal, the Hampden Underpass, and the Belleview medians. For Quincy Farm alone, city staff estimates $2 million will be needed over the next ten years. In addition to annual maintenance and personnel costs of $262,225 associated with known projects, the total 10-year estimated capital cost associated with known projects is $3,335,000.
Presently CHV’s city mill levy is 14.722, with 7.3 mills going to the city’s general fund and 7.422 mills (the amount that was being used to pay SSPR) going to the parks and recreation fund. CHV cannot change the distribution of its 14.722 split city mill levy without a vote of its citizens. Asking voters to decrease the parks and recreation mill levy by one mill would cost the city $415,000 in annual revenue, but save the owner of a $1 million home only $75/year. It would also have a negative effect on long-range planning.
The city’s long-range forecasted fund balance projections see the general fund being depleted from $9.3 million in 2019 to $2.6 million in 2031 and the capital fund being depleted from $5.4 million in 2019 to zero in 2031 due to anticipated road maintenance expenses in the city, while the parks and recreation fund is anticipated to grow from $1.1 million in 2019 to $4 million in 2031. That means that the total of all three city funds will go from $15.8 million in 2019 to $6.6 million in 2031, with 61 percent of the city’s total fund balance in all three funds in 2031 dedicated to parks and recreation. The forecast does not take into account that in many years, CHV does not spend its entire budget, hence the general fund balance could be higher than anticipated.
In December, the city council decided to keep the current mill levy in place and review it annually.
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