Friday, October 23, 2020

Letter to the Editor: Eiting Supports the Darke County Park Levy

Dear Editor:

Imagine back in 1972, when someone thought a Darke County Park District would be a great thing for the county, but that person wasn’t able to get public support. If that would have happened, we wouldn’t have the Shawnee Prairie Reserve and 12 other parks, 14.9 miles of paved multi-use/bike trails and 11.1 miles of hiking paths, all within almost 1,200 acres. 

Fast forward to 2020, our Darke County Park District is considering additional operating funds to keep our gorgeous parks open and growing. Our current ½ mil park levy is set to expire in 2025 and in order to keep the parks open down the road, we are seeking an additional ½ mil levy to overlap the next several years to help with the capital improvement schedule so when the first levy expires the park can continue with upkeep. 

Park data snapshot:

  • Seven full-time employees and one part-time employee
  • 62 percent of the budget goes to payroll and benefits
  • 250-300 annual volunteers
  • Annual visitors – 50,000 to 70,000
  • Current annual budget - $528,000

Additionally, over the past 20 years the park district has granted almost 1 million dollars to all Darke County municipalities toward their own park projects. Now you are probably asking yourself, like most of us, what’s this going to cost me if it passes? Well in the overall scheme of things, it’s inexpensive. If the levy passes, a property owner will pay an additional $17.50 per year based on a home appraised at $100,000. With both levies combined over the next several years, that same homeowner will only pay $31.74 per $100,000 of appraised household, and if you break it down per month, it is only $2.65. 

Parks are essential to a healthy community. They enable citizens to participate in physical activity and engage in nature, which both have been known to improve mental health. Economically, public parks significantly increase property value of surrounding properties. And ecologically, they help preserve nature and the critical wildlife habitats within. 

So, what would happen if the levy doesn’t pass? The park district will eventually be forced to cut back its operating expenses and its commitment to grow in the county. For example, Bears Mill and Ft. Jefferson will not be able to be brought under the management of the district, as they are considering at this time. 

In conclusion, please consider voting “YES” on Issue #1 on November 3rd!

Thank you for your consideration! 

Mitch Eiting

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