The Toledo Area Metroparks board's decision to add a new operating levy to the general-election ballot brings the number of levies Toledo city voters will decide on in November to seven.
The Metroparks board of directors voted 2-0 on Wednesday in favor of placing the 0.9-mill, 10-year levy on the Nov. 6 ballot -- a funding source the agency said will pay for developing new park areas and operations while preventing budget cuts.
Directors Scott Savage and Fritz Byers cast the two votes. Lera Doneghy didn't attend the meeting; she participated by conference call, but she could not vote by phone.
If passed, the proposed levy would generate about $7.1 million annually for 10 years. It would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $27.56 annually, Metroparks spokesman Scott Carpenter said.
Mr. Carpenter said the proposed 0.9 mills would take the place of an existing 0.3 mill levy that expires at the end of 2012. That levy was passed in 2002 and generates about $2.8 million annually.
"The one that is expiring was only to purchase land," Mr. Carpenter said. "This would also be to do maintenance, development of new park areas, and operations."
The Metroparks already has a 1.4-mill operating levy, which also runs 10 years. It was replaced in 2007 and generates about $10.8 million a year for general operations. It previously generated $12 million before property tax devaluations in the county.
"That's the main levy that pays for operating the parks; the 0.9-mill levy would be used primarily for maintenance and improvements," Mr. Carpenter said.
The Metroparks also gets $1.3 million in local government funding, which includes "inside millage."
Mr. Savage, board president, said local area funding for the Metroparks has decreased and devaluation of properties in Lucas County has meant less revenue for the Metroparks.
"So between the two of those, there is a shortfall with the plan that we have in place, and that requires an additional investment from 0.3 [mills] to 0.9 [mills]," he said. "We would have to make changes in our future budget if the levy were not successful."
The Metroparks levy will be one of seven on the ballot for Toledo voters and one of five for county voters living outside Toledo.
The new levy requests altogether would add $345 a year to the tax bill for an owner of a $100,000 home who lives in the city of Toledo and its school district. For that same Toledo homeowner, the new bill for the involved levies would be $1,916 annually, up from $1,571, according to calculations by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The multiple funding requests on the ballot did not affect the Metroparks board's decision, Mr. Savage said.
"I can only speak to our levy, and while we are cognizant of other levies that will be on the ballot, we are focused on keeping the promise that we have made to the people of Lucas County that the experience they have in Metroparks equals the promise, and it is imperative to fund that appropriately."
The Metroparks' 2011 annual report showed revenues totalling $24,428,900 and expenses of $22,146,532, leaving a surplus of $2.28 million.
Metroparks Executive Director Steve Madewell said the operating budget -- coming from local taxes -- is about $14.9 million. Much of the other money in 2011 came from "one-time" state and federal grants that were targeted for specific programs.
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