Wednesday, April 30th, 2014
By Amy Kronenberger
Auglaize voters to decide new park levy
Primary 2014
  The Heritage Trails Park District in Auglaize County is asking residents to vote Tuesday for a new operation and park development levy.
The 0.6-mill, 7-year levy would bring in $300,000 annually. An Auglaize County homeowner with a $100,000 property would pay $21 per year.
Park district commissioners Dave Stilwell, Greg Myers and Jim Heinrich approved certification of the levy in response to decreasing revenues.
Stilwell has said a main source of income for the district is state funding, which is $18,802 this year. The amount is up slightly from $18,792 in 2012 and 2013, but is down from the $30,000 the district received in previous years since its founding in 1996.
Donations account for the remainder of the district's $53,000 annual budget.
Revenue is expected to keep declining, leaving little to no extra money after paying the salary of part-time executive director Allison Brady. Commissioners serve on a volunteer basis.
If the levy fails, the park district would continue with whatever funds it has, Stilwell has said. Work would proceed on park projects through the help of volunteers and donations, she added.
Without the levy funds, the district would not be able to keep Brady employed and could not apply for any state grants that require matching funds, officials said.
If the levy is approved, the district would continue to employ a director, establish a fund to maintain and improve existing parks, create new park opportunities, develop educational programming for adults and children, apply for grants and fund volunteer programs to get the community more involved.
County parks operated by Heritage Trails include the Dr. Elizabeth Yahl Kuffner Nature Preserve, just north of St. Marys along county Road 66A; Lock 14 Park, Noble Township; Deep Cut Historical Park, Salem Township; Bloody Bridge Trail Head, Noble Township; and the Miami-Erie Canal Towpath Trail, eight miles of trail through Noble and Salem townships.
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