This measure will protect and restore the natural areas that make air cleaner to breathe in the Cook County area, reducing health complications such as asthma. The forest preserves protect millions of trees that absorb pollution and keep our air clean.
Forest preserves filter storm and rainwater, keeping pollution from entering our waterways and reducing the risk of flooding from heavy rainfall in communities across the area.
When land and water is conserved, native wildlife thrive. Support of this initiative will ensure that our forest preserve land is maintained, protecting our plants and animals that call the forest preserves home.
This measure would invest in restoration and stewardship, helping restore 30,000 acres of forest preserve land to good health. Restoration of forest preserve land helps keep our water and air clean, reduces flooding, and allows local wildlife to thrive in their native habitats.
Approval of this measure will create and sustain thousands of jobs and lead to more opportunities for county residents. The Forest Preserves of Cook County plan to add summer jobs and scholarships, including those specifically for historically underserved communities.
Shall the limiting rate under the Property Tax Extension Limitation Law for the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois, be increased by an additional amount equal to 0.025% above the limiting rate for levy year 2020 for the purposes of conserving and restoring land to good health, protecting the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams, providing natural flood water storage, protecting wildlife habitat, protecting forests to improve air quality, improving and maintaining existing forest preserves and trails of said District, and other lawful purposes of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, with public disclosure of expenditures, and be equal to 0.076% of the equalized assessed value of the taxable property therein for levy year 2022?
This proposal will fund projects that support cleaner air and water quality, reduced flooding, and wildlife protection throughout Cook County. Additionally, the Forest Preserves will use the new funding to address deferred maintenance on public lands, acquire new lands, and resolve pension shortfalls.
The property tax impact will vary based on home value. Based on estimates of home prices in Cook County, the average Cook County homeowner will see an impact of about $20 per year – or just $1.66 per month. However, the true cost will likely be even lower than this for most homeowners, thanks to property tax exemptions which lower their assessed home value.
Providing some funding for the Next Century Conservation Plan is a major goal of this ballot question. The Next Century Conservation Plan (NCCP) was formed in 2014 to guide the Forest Preserves for the next 25 years and make Cook County a national leader in urban conservation. Among the plan’s top objectives is to expand the Forest Preserves and double the acreage currently restored to reach 30k acres in good or excellent health. The NCCP also plans to expand community programming and create new jobs across the county with a permanent conservation corps workforce. These jobs will help ensure Cook County’s native landscapes will thrive for generations, and that all residents in Cook County will feel welcome at the forest preserves and seek them out for discovery, renewal, and fun.
The Forest Preserves make up 70,000 acres across Cook County (and 11% of all county land). More than 80% of Cook County residents live within five miles of a forest preserve, with plans to use this funding for public land acquisition closer to the City of Chicago. A map of the Forest Preserves can be found here.
The question has been approved to appear on the November 2022 ballot. Applications for mail-in ballots will be accepted starting August 10th, 2022. In-person early voting will begin October 24th. Election Day is November 8th. Residents who are not registered to vote may register and cast their ballot on Election Day with two qualifying forms of ID. For more information, please click here if you are a City of Chicago resident and here if you live in Suburban Cook County.