Even though Aurora owns and operates its own parks, the Portage Park District serves all of Portage County with 1,300 acres of parkland and 14 miles of hike / bike trails available to citizens.
Governed by a board of three to five unpaid park commissioners and a paid full-time executive director, the district is in urgent need of funding above and beyond the meager $99,500 received annually, half of which comes from donations.
The capital improvement fund used for park acquisitions and construction come from specific grants and donations which vary from year to year. But Portage Parks cannot take advantage of most grants because they lack the 20 percent to 50 percent matching funds required for local match, so millions of dollars that could improve the parks and trails are going to other Ohio counties.
Neighboring counties have property tax levies to support park districts. For example, Summit County receives $17 million per year ($32 per person) annually, and Geauga receives $9 million per year ($96 per person). In stark contrast, Portage County has no levy to support its park district, and the $99,500 budget amounts to 61 cents per person.
It is time for our Portage Park District to have a levy to assure a steady amount of money to maintain and improve the current parkland. Issue 10 is a proposed 0.5- mill operating and improvement levy which will bring in about $1.5 million annually and is projected to cost the owner of a $100,000 home $17.50 per year, or less than $1.50 per month.
Please vote "yes" on Issue 10 on May 6. It is a small request which will open over 800 acres of currently inaccessible parklands, as well as maintain and repair existing parks and trails.
Joan Greig, Aurora