Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin of Evanston says voters need to approve a referendum to increase funding for the Cook County Forest Preserve District.

He says the 2017 budget the district’s board adopted Tuesday is “essentially the same as the last three years” and reveals the structural weakness of the district, which is primarily funded by a capped property tax levy.

Suffredin says the new budget provides only limited resources for staff and volunteers, limited opportunity to restore existing properties and acquire additional ones or to expand recreational opportunities.

“The budget continues our support of the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Brookfield Zoo,” Suffredin says, “but at levels that are way too low to assist either in performing their missions. These two jewels anchor our outreach and educational programming. Neither the Garden nor the Zoo can continue their level of excellence without increased funding.”

The budget, Suffredin says, also fails to provide an adequate funding plan for the district’s pensions.

“It is time to trust our voters and ask them to approve a referendum” Suffredin says, that would fund restoration projects and land acquisition and increase subsidies to the Brookfield Zoo and the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The earliest a referendum could be scheduled is in 2018.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Choices

    Address unecessary spend and patronage hiring practices, provide all new employees with defined contribution plans with a modest employer match (in place of defined benefit plans — a relic from bygone days), and then we may consider such a request. 

    Until then, I suppose it's a matter of prioritizing cost outlays with existing resources for the Board:  if it decides to not fund the Botanic Garden so that it can continue its gross overspending on employee benefits, then that is its decision.  I will not support.

  2. How many referendums will government throw our way?

    So Suffredin wants voters to give the forest preserve more money for pensions, the Botanic Garden, Brookfield Zoo and such all the while our property taxes are expected to skyrocket when we get our tax bills in a few months.

    Meanwhile, Evanston's school district hopes to ask voters in a referendum for additional money for unspecified budget items.

    Who's next? The city of Evanston?.

    We have an election coming up. Are there any candidates running on a platform of lowering taxes and goverment budget reductions? Has anyone in our goverment ever heard of cutting back?

  3. My Job also “provides only limited resources”

    Commissioner Suffredin needs a reality check. My income growth isn't keeping up with all my expense growth. Last time i went to the Zoo and Botanic Gardens they both seemed to be doing fine; just look at the new construction. If the Zoo and Gardens want to keep spending money at this rate, seems like it may make sense to ask their donors for more money and NOT taxpayers. I don't have more money to give.

    Instead of "trust our voters" let's "trust our government leaders" to reign in their spending proclivities, or is that an oxymoron?

    Tis the Holday Season, but action alert, Santa Claus doesn't exist and Cook County isn't going to find an ATM under their Christmas Tree this year.



    1. Don’t Fund Bad Intentions

      If the Forest Preserve was serious about its mission of preserving protecting restoring and restocking our priceless natural areas, that would be one thing.  But this administration has shown no real integrity to do that.  a 4-year wheel-spin million-dollar boondoggle of a ‘master’ plan to tell them what they already should have known if they’d stop hiring ignorant leadership.  and no commitment.  ALL the $$ loss came out of Restoration $.  Every year the administration hires on a new layer of politically appointed oversight.  and they wage war against the diversity of trees, which they sell for lumber $ but no accounting how that lumber $ is budgeted and no follow-up to really help restoration.  They will just use any extra money to hire more cronies and bulldoze more land for Wreckreation money-sponges that squeezed tax payers will then have to pay extra for.  NO.  

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *