The Portage park system, located in Portage County, Ohio, is home to over a thousand acres of land and multiple hike and bike trails. Despite the widely used park system, the park will be on the May 6 primary ballot hoping to gain more funds to sustain itself. TV2 reporter Vivian Feke shows you how the park can possibly change with the result of Issue 10.
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Registered voters in Portage County will have a chance to vote on Issue 10 this week, a 10-year property tax levy.
If Issue 10 passes, homeowners who have a house valued at about $100,000 will pay about $18 more in taxes each year for the next 10 years.
Executive Director of Portage Parks Christine Craycroft said the parks offer 1300 acres and 14 miles of recreation for the county.
“Portage County deserves a good park system!”
Christine Craycroft, Executive Director of Portage Park District
Currently the parks operate on about $99,000 per year, including maintenance of park buildings and restrooms, safety of trails, and more.
“We’re stretched pretty thin,” said Craycroft. “It’s hard to know day to day, week to week, month to month, where the money is going to come from.”
Right now, some of the park’s operations come from donations and volunteers, who help fix trails, pick up trash, and repair shelters.
“It’s a lot to take care of,” said Craycroft.
If Issue 10 passes, the Portage parks would be operating on a 10-year 1/2 mill levy, which would provide the parks with about 1.5 million dollars each year for the next 10 years.
Some residents in Portage County, however, are not happy about the proposed property tax.
Due to the recent economy and amount of taxes property owners already pay, Craycroft can understand why a voter might turn down Issue 10.
“They view this as a new tax, and they just want to say no to all taxes,” said Craycroft.
Kent’s Director of Parks and Recreation, John Idone, said while the increase in taxes may make voters skeptical, there is a benefit they should know about.
“A [approximate] 15 dollar a year increase in your taxes… when it increases your property by thousands of dollars, is a good return in your investment,” said Idone.
Idone said while he hasn’t visited the Portage Parks in a while, he’s fond of the hike and bike trails. He also said that the park community is very supportive of each other, and Kent Parks and Recreation are supportive of the Portage parks.
Craycroft said the Portage parks used to be a big tourist attraction, and a gazebo in Towner’s Woods, a part of the park system, was a popular place for weddings.
“We haven’t seen any weddings here in the past few years,” said Craycroft. “The top of the roof is crumbling.”
Craycroft also said the railings surrounding the gazebo are in need of repair.
Portage County has previously voted on the Portage parks, and have turned the issue down five times already.
Craycroft is hopeful the sixth time will be the charm.
“Portage County deserves a good park system!” said Craycroft.
If Issue 10 doesn’t pass on the May 6 primaries, voters can expect to see it again in the November election.
In the event the levy doesn’t pass, Craycroft said the park will be more dependent than ever on donations and support from volunteers.
Issue 10 is now all up to the voters of Portage County.