Consolidated levy 'vital' for parks & rec budget

Cary Ashby • Jun 13, 2019 at 9:00 PM

A property tax levy for the Norwalk parks and recreation department would combine three existing levies into one for the same millage.

City council addressed proposed legislation for the five-year, 1.75-mill levy during Tuesday’s work session. The resolution, which will be on the agenda next week, would request the Huron County auditor to certify the total current tax evaluation that would be generated. That is the first step in getting the levy on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Considering the property tax levy is for five years, “we wouldn’t have to go back to the voters for five years,” Norwalk Finance Director Michelle Reeder told council. She also said it would generate an additional $166,000 for the maintenance and operation of the parks and recreation department. 

It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $26.59 per year and $19.95 annually for homestead residents. The proposed levy would combine three smaller levies — all with various expiration dates — into one.

“It’s vital for our operation,” said Joe Lindenberger, parks and recreation superintendent. 

Lindenberger views the proposed levy as being much more efficient than going to voters every couple of years for the three existing ones. Also, he said the new tax would generate money at the current value for the parks portion of his budget instead of “collecting pennies on the dollar” and having his department do the difficult work of budgeting on decades-old money.

“I think people appreciate efficiency,” Lindenberger said. “It’s the same millage. We’re not being greedy. … We’re not asking for bells and whistles.”

If the proposed property tax isn’t passed, “we would take a pretty big hit in the budget,” he added.

Parks and rec has about a $1.8 million annual budget. Lindenberger said there’s a rising cost to doing business and “we want to take care of what we have for the residents” and operate at the same standard that the community expects.

“I think we are frugal (with) our budget,” he added, noting his department applies for multiple grants and depends on foundations and donations. “At some point, the rubber meets the road and that’s where we are.”

Council placed the resolution on the agenda next week without any discussion.

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