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Cincinnati Parks Launching Levy Request Initiative

Tana Weingartner

Cincinnati Parks wants to ask voters in November for a 1 mill tax levy to fund capital improvements and operating costs.

The park district plans to launch a signature gathering campaign on Saturday. According to the Hamilton County Board of Elections, the park district will need to gather the valid signatures of 5,969 registered voters in the city to get the proposed charter amendment on the November 3 ballot.

The levy would generate $5.2 million per year for the park district. The Hamilton County Auditor's office says it would cost $35 per every $100,000 of property value. 

Mayor John Cranley says 25 percent of the fund would be reserved for park maintenance. 

“Seventy-five percent, with the cooperation of the mayor and the parks board, can be used, not necessarily will be used, but can be used to borrow money to make a number of these investments,” Cranley says. “The charter language will also lock in that the parks capital budget must be maintained from non-levy sources from the general fund at current levels, and increased on an annual basis for inflation.”

Cranley says that’s to insure future administrations don't reduce general fund spending on parks.

Several parks renovation projects could start as soon as next year, according to Cranley, including the redevelopment of Burnet Woods, green space outside the Westwood Town Hall, and the purchase and construction of the Wasson Way Trail.

Cranley says volunteers will collect the necessary 6,000 signatures. Paid petition circulators could be hired too.

“We think to be safe we have to collect 12,000 signatures all in the month of July.  It’s a tall order.  But this plan brings a lot of excitement with it so I think we’ll get the signatures."

Cranley wants to turn in the signatures by July 31.  

The Cincinnati Park District has 5 regional and 70 neighborhood parks and 34 nature preserves.

It also notes:

Cincinnati Parks maintains parkways and neighborhood gateways in addition to managing Cincinnati's Street Tree program on 1,000 miles of city streets. The Cincinnati Park Board operates five nature centers, an arboretum and one of the largest public plant conservatories in the country. Our public art collection is the Midwest's largest.