Orange Township trustees are considering a change to a 1.5-mill park levy that would provide funding for township roads.
Discussion at Monday’s trustees’ meeting centered around asking voters to approve a 1-mill park levy and creating a new road improvement levy at 0.5 mills.
The 1.5-mill park levy will be expiring after this year. According to township Administrator Lee Bodnar, the current 1.5-mill park levy produces $1.3 million per year.
However, if trustees move ahead on seeking voter approval of 1-mill park levy and a 0.5-mill road improvement levy, more than $1.5 million a year would be generated, according to Delaware County Auditor George Kaitsa.
He said a 1-mill park levy renewal will yield $1 million per year while a new 0.5-mill road levy will produce $578,000 per year, if they are approved by voters.
At Monday’s meeting, Beth Hugh, township maintenance and park director, told trustees she would like to “address two issues at once.”
Hugh first suggested reducing the 1.5-mill park levy renewal to 1 mill. Then she suggested applying the other 0.5-mill to a new levy for road improvements.
The current three-year park levy has generated a total of $4 million, Bodnar said.
Bodnar said the township currently has $12 million in projects on the books with $6 million in cash reserves for parks.
“We’ve been successful in getting (park) grants,” Hugh said. “We’re saving money.”
Orange Township, like the rest of Delaware County, has seen a rapid increase in population in a short amount of time.
According to Bodnar, there have been 50 miles of new residential roads added to the township in the last 10 years. “All those roads will deteriorate at the same rate,” he said. “The cost will be too heavy for the township to maintain all of the roads.”
The township’s road improvement costs are now paid out of the township’s general fund, Hugh said.
Trustee Robert Quigley said trustees had insisted on a $500,000 cap on the amount used for road improvements from the general fund. “We never have enough,” he said. “I say we do as Beth (Hugh) suggest. Take it from the parks levy and use it for the roads.”
Hugh said $258,000 has been spent on road improvements from the general fund this year.
“We have always had to cut back on the amount of roads,” Quigley said. “The general fund isn’t working.”
However, Quigley said he does not see a road levy being able to sustain the funding of the roads alone. “The 0.5 mills won’t work without the general fund.”
Trustees and Hugh said that in the past there has been discussion among township officials about implementing a road levy but it has always been put off. “I think we’ve put this off as long as we can,” Hugh said.
Bodnar said the key to getting both levies passed by voters is educating residents to the up side of reducing the park levy and the benefit of creating a road improvement levy. “In this whole thing, there is no increase in millage,” he said.
The deadline for getting issues on the November ballot is Aug. 10.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.