Understanding the Darke County Parks levy


It’s hard to believe that 10 years have almost passed and the Darke County Park District is once again on the ballot on Nov. 7th as issue #9. This levy renewal will provide funds to maintain the district preserves, facilities, top-notch programming and requested park improvements for another 10 years. Some of you may be wondering why it seems like the parks were on the ballot not that long ago and are again this year. That is because the voters approved two concurrent 0.5 mill levies, with the more recent addition being from 2020 that allowed for the acceptance of Historic Bear’s Mill and the preservation of Fort Jefferson. The 0.5 mill levy that is up for vote in November is a renewal of the levy that was passed by voters in 2013, which itself was a replacement of the “original” levy from 1993. Darke County Parks are a separate entity from the City and County, and receive no funding from these other sources.

Let’s dive into the weeds for a moment and explore some ballot terms that can be a bit confusing at times. A “replacement” is a new levy while a “renewal” continues things as they have been with no increase in taxes. Now what about a “mill”? A “mill” is equivalent to $1 for every $1,000 assessed value. So 0.001 of that taxable value. In the case of the parks’ 0.5 mill levy, that would be 50 cents for every $1,000 assessed value or 0.0005 of taxable value. If you are like me, you need to see it more visually, so check this out.

Here is a numerical example of how this works provided by the Ohio Department of Taxation:

$100,000 (Appraised Value) x 35% =

$35,000 (Assessed Value)

$35,000 (Assessed Value) x 0.5 mill (0.0005) =

$18 in tax per 0.5 mill per YEAR

What does all that mean? Because the election is on Nov. 7, the levy cost will be based on your assessed home value before the recently released 2023 property revaluations, as these won’t go into effect until sometime in December. This means that the levy values will be based on current home values and as a renewal, the same amount that it has been for the past 10 years.

This levy provides roughly one-half of the day-to-day operational costs for the 14 preserves, including the upkeep of the Nature and Bish Discovery Centers. Your Darke County Parks help keep greenspace and outdoor recreation accessible to all of Darke County. It will help ensure the continuation of the long-running “Community Grant Program”, the continued upkeep of nearly thirty miles of trails (both hiking and bikeway), the conservation and habitat management of over 1,000 acres, the continued upkeep of historical facilities within the District, the continuation of year-round programming and special community events and the retention of highly qualified staff.

What has Darke County Parks done lately? We are proud to say that we have recently surpassed 1.2 million dollars awarded back to the local communities through our “Community Grant Program” helping all 21 villages and the City of Greenville to improve the local parks and greenspaces in your communities. We host six annual special community events each year, bringing engaging activities to the community and bringing tourism dollars to the county nearly every other month. We have been able to secure state tax dollars by way of grants, bringing more than two million dollars back to Darke County. We interact with every school district in the county each school year offering educational programs in both natural sciences as well as cultural history to thousands of students. Volunteers donated over 3,663 hours in 2022 alone, which equates to a value of over $73,000. These volunteer hours play a vital role in many of our grant writing for major projects. As part of our 50th anniversary celebration in 2022, nearly ten miles of hiking trails were added throughout the district adding new areas to explore and discover. Just this year, new wayfinding signage was added throughout the nearly 15 miles of the Tecumseh Trail allowing users to see how far they’ve gone and how close they are to the next landmark. These numbered and mapped signs also will play a vital role with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the event of injury or emergency on the trail. The park district has begun to grow canoe, kayak, and bike rental services allowing residents easy access to outdoor recreation activities without the high equipment “buy-in” required to get into these sports. These new initiatives, as well as the Bash at Bish and the Bish Cooperative, are transforming Ohio Street into a destination for healthy living.

This renewal of the “original” voter-approved levy would continue to generate half of the operating funds of the park district for the next ten years, at the same rate currently paid. I’ll see you on the trails!

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