New parks & rec levy will go to voters

Cary Ashby • Jul 9, 2019 at 7:00 PM

A property tax levy for the Norwalk parks and recreation department will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

City council unanimously gave the go-ahead during Tuesday’s meeting. The five-year, 1.75-mill levy would combine three existing levies — all with various expiration dates — into one for the same millage.

The tax would generate $501,282 each year, Huron County Auditor Roland Tkach said. If it passes, the money would go toward the maintenance and operation of the parks and recreation department.

“It’s vital for our operation,” Superintendent Joe Lindenberger said in an earlier interview. “It’s the same millage. We’re not being greedy. … We’re not asking for bells and whistles.”

It would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $61.25 per year and $45.94 annually for homestead residents. 

Considering the levy is for five years, “we wouldn’t have to go back to the voters for five years,” finance director Michelle Reeder told council earlier. 

Lindenberger views the 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.

If the levy doesn’t pass, “we would take a pretty big hit in the budget,” Lindenberger said. “I think we are frugal. … At some point, the rubber meets the road and that’s where we are.” 

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.

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