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The Suburbanite
  • Jackson asks for money for parks

  • A ‘yes’ vote on the Jackson Township parks levy means maintaining the status quo of the township’s park system, the restoration of North Park late hours and the reversal of some cuts, a township official said. A ‘no’ vote means allowing the township’s parks to deteriorate.

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  •   Residents voting on the township parks levy May 7 will be deciding between restoring after-dusk North Park hours or ceasing all maintenance except mowing of the township’s seven parks, a township official said.
    Fiscal Officer Randy Gonzalez said the township’s park system has cost the general fund anywhere between $600,000 to $1.2 million a year for operating and capital costs.
    But Gonzalez said the township’s general fund has lost $1.8 million a year in revenue, due to the substantial loss of local government funding from the state and the state’s repeal of the tangible personal property tax and the estate tax.
    Gonzalez stressed that the township’s parks are not part of the Stark Parks system, and the township does not get any money from the Stark Parks levy approved in November.
    Gonzalez said if voters approve the levy, the $1.23 million a year in new revenue would cover much of that $1.8 million loss.
    The township trustees would spend the levy money on the $700,000-a-year it cost to operate the park system, the roughly $300,000 a year for capital costs such as replacing park equipment and replacing dirt for the baseball fields, the cost for non-park employees who perform services for the parks, and the rising costs during the five-year life of the levy, Gonzalez said.
    Last November, 55 percent of voters rejected a proposed township “current expenses” 5-year 2.2-mill levy that would have funded both the roads and parks department. It would have yielded $2.9 million a year and cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $67.
    The parks levy on the May ballot can only cover parks and recreational costs. It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $31 a year.
    If approved, the trustees would restore the old hours of North Park to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., Gonzalez said. It’s now open from dawn to dusk, after the trustees in November ordered the walking track lights turned off to save on electricity costs. The trustees would also reverse the layoff of a parks employee and reassignment of a parks employee to a lower paid job.
    If the levy fails, Gonzalez said the trustees would likely lay off parks employees and could hire a contractor to mow. The trustees would cease all other park maintenance including pruning trees, fertilizing, lining baseball fields and football fields and placing blacktop on parking lots. And there would be no more park events like the Easter Egg hunt, the Community Celebration or the Christmas lights.
    “The parks would not look like (what) people are accustomed to today,” said Gonzalez, who added that the deterioration of the parks would hurt residents’ property values. “Nobody wants a tax, but you can’t make up for $1.8 million in losses.”
    Reach Robert at 330-580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com
    Page 2 of 2 - On Twitter: @rwangREP