Laona Heights Sugar River Colored Sands Sugar River Two Rivers Ferguson Hartley Memorial Trask Bridge Four Lakes Pecatonica River Pecatonica Wetlands Crooked River Grove Creek Seward Bluffs Klehm Forest Preserve Severson Dells Fuller Memorial Cedar Cliff Indian Hill Hinchliff Memorial Kilbuck Bluffs Trailside Kishwaukee Gorge South Kishwaukee Gorge North Rockford Rotary Kishwaukee River Oak Ridge Blackhawk Springs Deer Run Espenscheid Memorial McKiski County Line Kieselburg Roland Olson Stone Bridge Clayton Andrews Ledges Hononegah J. Norman Jensen Millrace Isle Macktown Atwood Homestead Forest Preserve Headquarters

Board of Commissioner Minutes Sept. 4

Winnebago County Forest Preserve District


District Headquarters

September 4, 2013


PRESENT                                                                 STAFF

Judy Barnard- President                                             Mike Holan, Executive Director

Mike Eickman                                                             Steve Chapman, Finance

Audrey Johnson                                                          Mike Durand, Golf

Gloria Lind                                                                 Tom Hartley, Land and Development

Cheryl Maggio                                                            Vaughn Stamm, Preserve Operations

Mary McNamara Bernsten                                         Jamie Johannsen, Marketing

Randy Olson                                                               Judi Day, Budget and Personnel


The meeting was called to order at 5:32 pm.  Recording secretary Ronelle Johnson called the roll.


INVOCATION and PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE     Audrey Johnson led the assemblage in the Pledge of Allegiance.


APPROVAL OF AGENDA and MINUTES      Minutes for July 31, 2012 were approved.



Bills for August – Steve Chapman reviewed the invoices to be paid for August.  Gloria made a motion to authorize the payment of the August bills totaling $574,645.16.  Vote that was originally taken on August 9 at the Board preserves tour was reaffirmed.  Motion passed unanimously.


Appointment of IMRF agent – Bryan Cutler is the current IMRF Authorized Agent.  The District is required to appoint an IMRF Authorized Agent to execute certain documents and advise the District’s employees of IMRF rules and benefits.  Gloria made a motion to reappoint Bryan Cutler as the IMRF Authorized Agent.  Motion passed unanimously.


Consultant – grant writing – Judy Barnard would like to consider contracting a grant writing specialist to assist the District with securing any grants that may be available.  This action item was laid over until September 18.




Correspondence from Sandra Tower – Steve Chapman read an email that he previously forwarded to the Commissioners by email.  The email was sent to every elected official on the tax bill, including the District’s Commissioners, and all County Board Members.  Ms. Towers’s complaint was that her income has dropped drastically due to the housing market, and at the same time her tax bill has gone up.  She was addressing all of the taxing bodies that the taxing districts need to be mindful of their budgets.   Judy asked Mike and Steve to respond to the email, and Steve distributed a copy of the letter that was sent in response to Ms. Towers’s email.


First Review of 2014 Budget – Revenue  Steve distributed a draft of the Annual Budget and Appropriation Ordinance.  He announced that each individual revenue source was looked at, and the property tax was based on the assessed value for this next year.  The senior citizen exemption is going up this year and new properties are significantly off.  The limiting tax rate for the District is .11701.   The District’s proposed overall tax rate is .11587.  However some of the proposed rates are at the maximum, such as the Corporate and Botanical Garden funds. The Capital Improvement fund rate is slightly under the maximum.  In the Corporate fund the District is currently collecting $2.4 million but next year it will be approximately $2.2 million.  Corporate personal property replacement taxes are estimated to be up a bit.  The Capital Improvement fund revenue is mostly property taxes, other reimbursements, and rent for farmland.  The Botanical Garden fund revenue is strictly the property taxes.  Therefore, when the assessed valuation goes down, that revenue goes down.


Corporate Fund – Estimated expenditures reflect 2% wage adjustments that are in the collective bargaining agreement, and the health insurance increase of about 7%. There has been no additional personnel budgeted, with the exception of a part-time volunteer coordinator.  The corporate board budget has been decreased from $30,000 to $24,000 but only estimating to spend $12,000.  Mike clarified that this budget includes $1,200 per board member for schooling and conferences, and it also has consulting monies for grant writing contractor and services for Pam Clark Reidenbach for consulting with the Board and strategic planning.  Judy clarified that the cost per commissioner is for classes, education and training.  Steve indicated that there is $55,000 of capital expenditures in the Corporate fund that would take care of the roof replacement for Headquarters and a new plotter printer.


Capital Improvement and Development Fund – Mike went through the expenditures for the Capital Improvement fund.  A new point of sale system needs to be purchased which will be easier for the golf personnel and the office staff. Replacement for the 10-yard dump truck, the heavy equipment trailer and mower, and an add-on cab for a snow tractor are budgeted.    Also in need of replacing is a 3/4 ton pickup, a stake truck, a 4×4 Explorer, a rough mower, a utility mower a SandPro groomer, and a chemical sprayer. Erosion control at Oak Ridge needs to be done to allow the District to re-do and fix the trail as the trail has been re-routed.  The clubhouse deck at Ledges needs to be replaced, as well as electric service at Sugar River (phase 1 of a 3 or 4 year project), Trucks will be purchased through state bid through the County.  Vaughn looked into lease options, but lease companies prefer a fleet all at once, and the staff simply cannot justify a whole new fleet.   He also reiterated that the District staff has done a good job not spending some of the money that was allocated last year, and would like to do some maintenance projects in the next 60 days.  There are 5 projects that are designated to be completed this fiscal year.  Mike mentioned he wants to do a budget amendment that at the September 18 meeting to complete those projects.  Those would include paving of the parking lot at Atwood golf maintenance shop, paving part of the cart paths at Ledges, painting Deer Lodge at Severson Dells, repairing the observation deck at Pecatonica River, and the roof at the Hononegah maintenance shop.


Mike distributed a Fee and Revenue Adjustment Report and an Alternate without fee increases.  Mike has compared the District’s fees with other like facilities.  He did a breakdown of all the fees and averaged them out over the last 4 or 5 years.  He feels the District needs to start implementing non-resident fees.


Golf – Mike is proposing to add a non-resident golf fee to greens fees.  Additionally Mike is proposing tournaments, outing play dates, practice range tokens and golf cart rentals would get an increase for residents and non-residents.  When he projected everything out with the nominally increased fees (just a couple of dollars) on greens fees and golf carts, the revenue, based on a 5 year projection, would be approximately $60,000 in increased revenues.


Special Use Fees – Mike projected a 10% non-resident use for shelterhouses, and made some minimal changes, bumped small shelters up $10 and $20, electrical charge $5 and $10, and special use permits from $10 to $25.  For movie productions special use permits, the changes made would be to require staff be present and charge an hourly rate (to be determined) for overseeing the production.  Mary suggested raising shelterhouse fees to $50 for residents and $75 for non-residents.




Equestrian With regard to equestrian annual tags, there is about a 50/50 resident to non-resident usage.  The breakdown of equestrian daily tags makes up approximately 15% resident and 85% non-resident.  Those are the highest percentage increases, due to non-residents using the equestrian paths.


Flying Field – Mike would like to see a 20% increase.  He estimates 20% non-resident use at our flying field.


Campgrounds – When Pecatonica electric was closed down, several users of the campground sent emails saying they would be willing to pay higher fees to keep electric service in the campgrounds.  As for usage, there is 55% resident use and 45% non-resident use.  Mike would like to increase resident and non-resident fees, and senior/disabled fees.


Farm Rents – Last thing he would like to increase is farm rent rates which would increase revenue by $10,000 next farming season.  The current farmers have agreed to the increase.


While the increase in fees Mike is presenting are nominal, the overall projected increases would be approximately $139,000.  A few people will be upset with the increased fees, but historically it has shown that use does not decline because of increased fees.


Mike Durand clarified that he has no objections to the increases, but wanted it to be clear that the proposed changes mentioned will be the maximum fee schedule, and at certain times of the year, it may be lower as the market bears with the use of discounts.


The fee schedules will be on the agenda for September 18 as an action item.


Randy Olson announced he would like to have the law enforcement budget and policy re-evaluated.  He would also like to discuss changing the policy to not allow the squad car to be taken home.



Judy invited all commissioners to the Pecatonica River Path ribbon cutting – September 12.


Jamie announced that an email invitation is going out to all those who have volunteered over the last year inviting them to an appreciation dinner on September 26 from 5:30-7:30 at Headquarters.



Meeting adjourned at 6:53 PM.

Next board meeting 5:30 PM, Wednesday, September 18, Colored Sands birdbanding station



Ronelle Johnson

Recording Secretary