SPRINGFIELD TWP. Township trustees have been hosting community meetings to gain input from residents, to report on progress on projects in the community and to present information on upcoming levies.
During the Sept. 21 meeting at the former Fire Station 2 property, now planned to be Pressler Park, citizens gathered to listen and make their views known.
Trustee Dean Young, who is a longtime township resident, said the trustees wanted to get face-to-face with residents and talk about what is going on.
He addressed a trash hauling issue by saying that he has been on the board for 10 years and, probably for the last eight years, trustees have talked about having one township-wide hauler. Young said they have had meetings on it and have struggled with the fact that there is a family in the township that owns a hauling business. He added that nothing is final, but Young said he believes a contract will be proposed to have Republic offer a reduced rate for citizens community-wide. For at least the first two years, there will be an opt-out for those that want to stay with their present hauler.
The last bill Young said he received from Republic was $92 for three months. The proposed cost for township residents through Republic will be $48 for three months and recycling will be included. There will also be a senior discount.
Police Chief Dave Hoover reminded those in attendance that a police renewal levy is on the Nov. 7 ballot. He said the renewal levy expires at the end of the year.
"If it expires, we are going to lose $474,000," Hoover said. "There is a good chance that you will not have a police department if that does happen."
With a failure, the township may have to look elsewhere for police services. Hoover explained that when Lakemore contracted for police services with the township, the village brought six full-time officers with it. When Lakemore restarted its own department, it left with three officers.
"We had to give those other three officers a choice of being laid off or going to part time."
The Springfield Police Department is down to 15 full-time officers and if the renewal does not pass, it will be reduced to roughly half that size.
Hoover reminded the attendees that the levy is a renewal with nothing added on.
"There are no new taxes," he said.
The state of Ohio has substantially cut funding for local governments, officials said, and Springfield has been losing $800,000 each year compared to what it received in 2006.
Also discussed was a parks levy that is on the November ballot. Young said Parks Director Doug Foltz kept the building where the meeting was held (Fire Station 2) from being leveled. With creative work, he obtained a grant to save the building for the parks.
Foltz said he was hired in 2013 with a mission to create more amenities for families to enjoy in the township.
"I love what I do. I love creating memories for people of the community," said Foltz, adding that he is working as economically as possible and is grant-driven on a lot of what he does. "I want to maximize your tax dollars five, six times what you pay for any project.
"I am not asking residents to fund 100 percent, I am asking for you to give me your trust to go for grants and try to improve this for the entire community to enjoy."
When he came to Springfield, there was one play structure - that was built in 1994 - for a township of 18,000 residents.
Lakefront Park has a new play area with a zip line and a pirate ship. Grant monies helped to fund the project.
"We utilized our road and parks department personnel to do the labor to install the playground equipment," Foltz said.
Foltz also answered question from attendees, including why the township didn't sell the Fire Station 2 property, in which he replied the township could make more than the sale price in renting out the facility.
He also answered by the 1.3-mill park levy will be on the ballot. The five-year levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home $45 a year or $3.79 a month.
"We asked for a 1.8-mill levy last May because we lost $800,000," he said. "That is not the trustees fault. That is not your, as residents, fault. That is something we have no control over. The state said if you want to keep your services, go ask your residents for it. That is as blatant as you can get. We would not be asking for a levy if that had not happened."
Foltz mentioned the things the township is doing such as free Friday night concerts, the food truck festival, cruise ins, Rock the Docks Festival to provide a quality of life in Springfield.
"We just want to you to help us," he said.
The next community meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Oct. 5 at the Sports Complex, JEDD Park, 2275 Pickle Road.