FY21 Budget in Brief

Comprehensive Fiscal Planning is more than just an annual budget!

Message from the City Manager

The City of Lake Forest consistently engages in a thoughtful review of its fiscal policies, practices and funding priorities. We continually search for ways to more effectively and efficiently meet the service level demands of our residents. City staff actively seek outside funding for capital projects, and the community is fortunate to have a citizenry that donates generously to civic projects, whether they be publicly or privately administered. The City is not content to sit by and let outside influences dictate our future. We will continue to make financial decisions with a focus on controlling our own destiny. The City Council routinely demonstrates its ability to make thoughtful and sometimes difficult decisions to maintain the vibrancy and desirability of Lake Forest as a community. At an unprecedented time when there are many unknowns, the City’s tradition of maintaining conservative financial practices has positioned us to be able to deliberately plan for the future and weather storms like the current public health and financial crisis we are experiencing. Our City government is also blessed by our greatest asset, our staff. I cannot emphasize enough my gratitude for those who devote their careers to making Lake Forest a wonderful place to live, work and play.


Jason Wicha

City Manager

Goals to our Citizenry

The City’s FY2018-FY2022 Strategic Plan sets forth six priority goal areas.

Strategic plan icons appear throughout the City’s Comprehensive Fiscal Plan to denote Strategic Plan initiatives.


City of Lake Forest: Overview

The City is required to account for revenues and expenses using fund accounting. This ensures that restricted revenues are used for their intended purposes. The City’s Fiscal Year 2021 covers the time period of May 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021. Below is a summary of the City-wide budget.

Total Budgeted - Revenues

Total Budgeted - Expenses

City of Lake Forest: General Fund

The General Fund is the primary operating fund of the City, includes most of the City’s personnel and is used to account for unrestricted revenues.

The chart above shows the General Fund revenues by type. The City is heavily reliant on property taxes, which accounts for 56.30% of budgeted FY21 Revenue of the General Fund

The General Fund expenses by type are provided above. City personnel costs account for 74.55% of General Fund expenses. See additional data on personnel later in the report.

The chart above depicts General Fund expenses by department. Public Safety (Fire and Police) accounts for 51.61% of General Fund expenses.

City of Lake Forest: Department Breakdown

City Manager's Office

Mission Statement

The Office of the City Manager fosters an enduring organizational culture that adheres to the City’s Core Values, promotes excellence in the delivery of services, and provides sound leadership while fulfilling the expectations of the community in a fiscally responsible manner.

Vision Statement

The Office of the City Manager will continue to provide high quality service to the residents, business community, City government and City employees and adapt to the changing needs of the community for services at City Hall.


Mission Statement

To provide timely, accurate, clear and complete financial information, internal controls and support to the City Council, City departments, and residents while maintaining a high level of compliance with generally accepted accounting principles as well as all pertinent Federal, State, and local rules and regulations.

Vision Statement

To be a motivated, resourceful and cohesive team that provides exemplary financial services in support of the City’s mission, embracing evolving technology as an essential component critical to the financial operations of the City

Department of Innovation & Technology

Mission Statement

To maximize technological utilization while providing a secure and reliable infrastructure.

Vision Statement

The Department of Innovation and Technology will provide effective IT solutions in support of the City’s mission while embracing evolving technology as an essential component critical to the progress of the City.

Human Resources Department

Mission Statement

The Human Resources Department provides support to City employees and management, provides the systems and processes they need to fulfill their roles, provides training in the same, and acts as the City’s internal professional consultant on personnel- and safety related issues.

Vision Statement

The Human Resources Department will remain proactive in seeking innovations to contain costs yet still provide a competitive benefit package and in creating a work environment that is flexible to help employees successfully fulfill their personal and work commitments. The Department will continue to embrace the differences between generations, cultures, races and sexes; strive to attract outstanding applicants and retain employees who continually seek better ways to serve the residents. The Department will continue to utilize a combination of training and mentoring to build future leaders

Community Development Department

Mission Statement

The Community Development Department’s mission is to work together with residents, businesses, local institutions, elected officials, Boards and Commissions and City staff from various departments to provide an exceptionally safe, vital and aesthetically pleasing community and to continue the traditions of careful planning and preservation that have served Lake Forest well. To accomplish this, the Department strives to work within the City’s governmental system to manage growth and change of the built and natural environment, provide clear information about development processes and regulations, and to work as an ally to the Department’s customers to assist them in efficiently moving through the review and approval processes to a successful completion of their project.

Vision Statement

Twenty years from now Lake Forest will still be a unique community, with a distinctive character, strong property values and a quality of life that is unparalleled among other communities.

Public Works Department

Mission Statement

To respond to the community needs for health, safety and welfare by managing resources consistent with maintenance, service, and capital policies determined by the City Council.

Vision Statement

To maintain a working environment built upon community trust and broad-based citizen involvement and to efficiently manage resources while challenging employees to higher goals through teamwork.

Lake Forest Fire Department

Mission Statement

The Lake Forest Fire Department trains, prepares, and responds: to preserve life, protect property, and promote safety.

Vision Statement

The Lake Forest Fire Department strives to be innovative, adaptive, and resilient in the face of all internal and external challenges.

Lake Forest Police Department

Mission Statement

The mission of the Lake Forest Police Department is to provide the highest quality professional police services in partnership with the community we serve. Police Department members consistently seek and find ways to affirmatively promote, preserve, and deliver a feeling of safety and security while also providing a high level of professional service to all persons within the City of Lake Forest.

Vision Statement

The Lake Forest Police Department will continue to adapt to the current economic environment and look for ways to provide an effective and professional law enforcement service to the community while also being fiscally responsible in its efforts.

Parks and Recreation Department

Mission Statement

The Parks and Recreation Department is committed to providing residents of all ages positive experiences through a variety of high-quality programs, facilities and services under the direction of professional and dedicated staff who are responsive to the changing needs of the community and to preserving our natural environment.

Vision Statement

To promote wholesome, enriching and enjoyable recreation, park and golf experiences that continues to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and community.

General Fund Historical Trends

How does FY21 General Fund budget compare to prior years?

As part of the annual budget development, the City updates its Five Year CIP. The FY21-25 CIP totals $40.8 million.

The chart below shows FY21 Capital Investments totaling $9,993,705


City employees who work daily to ensure delivery of high quality services to the Lake Forest community represent the City’s single most important asset.

Graph of Full Time employees by department

Chart – employees per 100 households

City Employee per 100 households has declined significantly since FY2000.

The FY21 Budget includes 209.75 Full Time Equivalent positions, down 18% from the City's high of 257 in FY2004.


Development of the City’s FY2021 Budget was significantly impacted by Governor Pritzker’s Statewide Stay at Home Order effective March 21, 2020. Elected officials and City staff rolled up their sleeves to quickly update the draft budget based on early indications of the impact the Coronavirus Pandemic could have on the City’s finances. On April 20, the City Council Finance Committee discussed options based on early projections and made changes to the FY2021 Preliminary Budget for City Council approval on May 4, 2020. The City Council receives monthly update presentations on actual revenues and expenses compared to the budget forecasts.

For more information on City-wide budget impact of COVID-19 Click Here.

To Go Beyond the Budget and Numbers - Discover Lake Forest

For additional information, click here to view the City's FY21 Comprehensive Fiscal Plan

Questions may be directed to Finance Director Elizabeth Holleb at hollebe@cityoflakeforest.com

** Click Here to view the City's Popular Annual Financial Report

Picture provided by local artist Mark McMahon