December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain County Metro Parks weighs levy in November

CARLISLE TWP. — The Lorain County Metro Parks board is weighing whether to ask voters to approve an increase in its operating levy in November.

Metro Parks Director Jim Ziemnik said the current 10-year, 1.3-mill levy brings in about $7.9 million per year and comprises the bulk of the Metro Parks roughly $10 million annual budget. The rest comes from revenue, grants and donations, he said.

But he also said the park district has faced declining revenues in recent years as expenses have gone up. For instance, he said the state decision to cut funding to local governments saw the Metro Parks lose about $500,000.

Ziemnik also said additional money is needed to complete several projects and launch a new round of developments, including new trails.

“We’ve worked in these 20 years relative to getting a lot done with our facilities and our trails, and we want to maintain (that),” he said.

Metro Parks board members will decide at a meeting next month whether to add .2 mills, which would bring the total the levy generates to a little more than $9 million, or add .3 mills, which would bring the levy total to about $9.8 million per year.

“We’re just trying to bridge that shortfall a little and that would allow us to go forward with some of our new ideas,” he said.

Ziemnik said the Metro Parks has promised to seek a levy only every 10 years, and that time has arrived.

He also said even if the board decides to go with the larger increase, it would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $10.50 annually.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.