Highland Park ’24 budget includes operating surplus, $34 million in capital spending

Fee increases and tax levy to help cover projects

The Highland Park councilmembers green lighted the City’s 2024 budget without much discussion during a regular council meeting on Nov. 27.

More information on the City of Highland Park’s budget can be found HERE, including a summary HERE.

According to the projections, the City will be operating at a surplus with $96 million in revenue to just $80.1 million in operating expenses. All in all, which includes planned capital spending and debt service, expenses rise to $127 million to $118 in total revenue.

The City’s 2024 revenue will get a boost from an additional $1.3 million in tax dollars thanks to a 3 percent levy increase that officials project will cause a $90 bump to a taxpayer with a $500,000 property value. The City says the increase will support higher debt payments, pension liabilities and capital projects.

While a vast majority of resident fees will remain neutral, residents can expect increases to water and sewer rates as well as ambulance fees. Water rates are up 10 percent and sewer rates 3.5 percent.

The City of Highland Park plans to spend $34.1 on capital improvements as part of a $201 million 10-year capital plan. The largest chunk of the 2024 funding plan, or $7.3 million, will benefit streetscape and sidewalk improvements, including to the downtown business district near 2nd Street. Another $6.4 million is planned to cover street, bridge and light work.

To help pay for the capital spending, the City will execute a $5 million planned drawdown of their general reserves, according to budget documents.

The City plans to spend an additional $2.1 million on its personnel in 2024, bringing the total cost to $45.8 million. The increase in includes regular and planned raises and the addition of 1.8 full-time employees. New positions at City Hall in 2024 — at least for the full year — include a victim liaison (2022 Highland Park shooting), business development specialist, assistant city manager and sustainability specialist. The City’s human resources department will have fewer employees.

Mayor Nancy Rotering praised the budget and its process prior to its approval.

“The proposed budget meets the City’s revenue, financial, budgetary and capital policies, and offers a balanced focus between the short- and long-term while minimizing the property tax burden to residents,” Rotering said. “We will continue our ongoing investments in improving and maintaining our roads, water mains, bridges, sidewalks, and other Public Works projects.”

She added, “In particular, attention to long-term fiscal stability is woven throughout the budget document, in all department projects. As a result, the City maintains a continued Aaa rating, the highest available, and has received ongoing recognition for our budget document and financial reporting.”

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Rosie Newmark

Rosie Newmark is a 2023 Record intern and an incoming senior studying journalism and history at Northwestern University. Rosie has written for multiple campus publications in addition to the Hyde Park Herald and American Libraries Magazine.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319