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COLUMBIANA COUNTY Park district must live with levy loss



Published: Tue, November 13, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Had it passed, the measure would have raised property taxes only slightly, a park official said.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

SALEM -- Although disappointed about Columbiana County voters' decision not to approve a park levy, a park district official said the agency will continue to make do with limited funds.

"We'll hang in there," park board member Charlie Harper said Monday.

Park facilities face no imminent danger of closing even though voters scrapped the 0.2 mill five-year additional levy Nov. 6.

Main attraction: But Harper said he's worried about the district's future, particularly in its ability to maintain its main attraction, the Greenway Trail.

Much of the nearly $223,000 that would have been generated annually by the levy would have gone toward expanding and maintaining the nearly 12-mile-long hike-bike path.

A $1.2 million state grant paid for creation of the Greenway, which stretches between Lisbon and Leetonia. The trail opened in summer 2000.

Although the trail is in good shape now, Harper said he worries about the district's ability to maintain it, given the agency's funding.

"We have a gem, and we have to keep it polished," he said.

Expansion plan: The district also wants to expand the trail. But doing so without the money the additional levy would have provided will be difficult, Harper said.

The park district's annual budget, about $12,000, comes largely from state tax dollars channeled through the county and from donations. The money is used to operate the trail and Scenic Vista Park near Lisbon.

The district also makes use of volunteer labor and services when it can.

"Big tears," Harper said with a laugh when asked for his reaction to the park levy's resounding defeat last week.

The measure was rejected by nearly 5,000 votes despite a vigorous campaign to get it passed.

"The people who haven't used the trail voted against it," Harper said of the levy.

Small increase: Levy passage would have meant just a small increase in property taxes, Harper added.

Taxes on a home worth $50,000 would have gone up about $3 a year.

"It was the cheapest thing on the ballot," Harper said.

Park officials haven't decided whether to try again for a levy in May or November 2002, he added.




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