By Nathan Pilling
XENIA — Greene County residents will vote on a new five-year, .9 mill parks levy in the Nov. 3 general election.
The levy, put on the ballot by the Greene County Park District, would bring in about $3.3 million annually to the district and would cost taxpayers $31.50 per $100,000 of appraised property value annually, according to Greene County Auditor information.
The district is coming to voters because, according to levy promotional literature, the district relies on state funding for 75 percent of its budget, “but that funding has been cut by more than half over the last several years.”
“We have literally run out of funds and we have a big build up of maintenance that needs to be done and that’s basically just short of a million dollars,” Greene County Park District President John Finlay said. “A lot of it will be used for regular maintenance and for operations, but a significant amount will be for capital improvements and so on.”
Greene County Parks & Trails Director Chrisbell Bednar said that at the rate the district is going through its emergency savings funds, “They could essentially be out of funds by 2017 or 2018.”
Bednar said $1 million of the annual funds would be designated by the district for trail maintenance, $1 million of the funds would be used for capital improvements and the remaining portion would be used for day-to-day operations and for the park district to cover its share of the park management agreement it has with the Greene County Commissioners.
According to district literature, it currently has more than $800,000 in deferred maintenance projects, including replacing bridges and steps on paths, repairing roadways. Other projects that would be addressed with levy funds would include rehabilitating a nature center and establishing an education center, among other plans.
“The last thing in the world that we want to do is close any parks, but it may be that we’ll have to do that [if the levy fails] and make some big decisions about which parks and so on,” Finlay said. “That will be a big discussion if heaven forbid the levy should fail.”
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.