Orange Township trustees are asking voters to renew a 1-mill parks levy and have created a new road improvement levy at 0.5 mills on the Nov. 8 ballot. Township officials created the .5-mill road improvement levy by reducing the current 1.5-mill park levy due to expire this December.
According to a report from Lee Bodnar, township administrator, the 1-mill park levy renewal will yield $1.1 million per year, while the new 0.5-mill road levy will produce $579,000 per year.
Both are three-year levies, if approved by voters.
Trustee Debbie Taranto said most people are aware that township roads need attention and they like the idea of accomplishing that with no increase in taxes.
It takes about $1 million a year to maintain and operate the parks. Unless the township builds something major, the reduction in the parks levy will maintain them, according to Taranto. “We continue to be very successful with grants which has allowed us to do this,” she said. “The money has gone farther.”
Trustee Lisa Knapp said she is “100 percent in favor of the parks.”
But Knapp feels the levy isn’t needed at this time. “I do use the parks and I do love the parks. We just don’t need need this levy right now. We have other resources,” she said.
Knapp specifically pointed to grants that have been awarded to the township for specific parks projects.
Knapp said she doesn’t think the roads are any worse than they have been in the past.
“Passing this levy isn’t going to fix all the problems,” she said. “We have never discussed having a roads levy before, but it might be wise to have a roads levy in the future. I’m totally into looking into it for the future.”
Trustee Rob Quigley said over the years there has been discussion on the needs of the roads and the status of parks projects. “Trustees have been provided with documentation to make them aware of the needs,” he said.
Quigley said the money in the budget for parks is for “projects in the works to add more fields and trails.”
“There is no surplus in parks,” Quigley said. “The proposed reduced 1-mill park levy will ensure we are able to properly support and maintain parks and trails going forward.”
The roads were built at the same time and are now deteriorating. “We are now seeing many roads in need of repair and the new .5-mill levy will allow us to address this growing issue,” Quigley said. “The reduction of the park levy and the addition of a roads levy, the intent was to minimize the impact of any increase in taxes while ensuring we are properly addressing the needs of the township.”
Bodnar said 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.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.