Fact Sheet Regarding Issue 1: MetroParks of Butler County Replacement Levy

Oct 11, 2021, 13:29 PM by Katie Ely

On the Ballot November 2, 2021

On November 2, 2021 your MetroParks is asking local voters, the parks system’s customers and owners, to decide if a 6 year Replacement Levy at the current tax rate of 0.7 mils should be approved. The proposed levy, like those passed in 2010 and 2016, would not be permanent. The replacement levy would generate revenue based on the same present tax rate. If passed, the levy would expire in 6 years without additional voter approval at the end of its term. The purpose of this ballot issue is to generate the funds necessary to keep the parks open, clean and safe during the years of 2023 through 2028. Passage would provide the funding necessary to allow for continuing educational and recreational programming in the park areas owned or operated by MetroParks of Butler County, and in other local, city or township parks by agreement.

In more detail, Levy Funds will allow MetroParks to:

• Operate and enhance existing parks and natural areas by:
          o Maintaining, developing and creating trail corridors with paved or natural surfaces that link existing trails and                     pathways; and         
          o Replacing and/or installing new play equipment; and         
          o Providing new or improved restrooms, parking, shelters, footbridges, and playing fields in MetroParks properties               located across Butler County, and to serve as required local matching funds for capital improvement grants and                 donations.

• Save, protect and improve Butler County’s open space, clean water and wildlife so future generations can enjoy these 
   amenities just as they can be enjoyed today; and

• Preserve lands to protect clean drinking water by preserving natural green space as recharge areas for local aquifers;

• Improve the water quality of our rivers, lakes, and streams by conserving upland areas along the Great Miami River,
   Indian Creek, Four Mile Creek, and other water courses in Butler County; and
• Protect forested and reforested areas to improve air quality; and
• Preserve wildlife habitat by managing park areas for both wildlife protection, diversity and public enjoyment; and
• Provide educational programs on such topics as nature education, conservation education, historic interpretation, 
   wildlife education, programming to local children, schools, families and adults; and

• Provide recreational programs related to hiking, walking, jogging, fishing, boating, camping and other outdoor
   experiences; and

• Use grant funding and/or non-tax resources to acquire land for future park areas from willing sellers only and restore 
  lands for future parks; and
• Promote and protect parks and park visitors; and
• Leverage local funds by matching them with state, federal and private dollars as indicated below:         
          o Levy funds facilitate partnerships, collaborations and sponsorships for capital park improvement and other
          o Since 2008, more than $10 million (in cash or in-kind value) has been leveraged for park system capital
              improvements from outside sources (non-levy funds).
• Provide Motor Vehicle Permits and programming to Butler County Residents at no or low additional cost while charging
  non-residents higher, but still reasonable amounts for the same access or opportunities. 

Additional MetroParks Facts:

• State funding for operational expenses which MetroParks previously received directly from the State of Ohio was cut by
   50%. These cuts remain in place today.
• Operational and maintenance costs have increased which reflect major growth in park visitation during the COVID-19
   Pandemic. A record 1.2 million people enjoyed a visit to the MetroParks in 2020. Trends indicate total park system
   visitation in 2021 will break the 2020 record.
• Without levy funding, MetroParks would need to cut expenses to balance its budget. This might result in closed parks
   and/or reduced park maintenance and programming since the MetroParks, which is a separate unit of government,
   receives no operating funds from the Butler County General Fund or from other local political subdivisions.
• Levy funds have historically provided about 80% of the dollars required to keep the MetroParks open, clean and safe.
   Fees and sales income has typically covered the balance of the park systems operating budget. Grants, Sponsorships
   and/or donations are almost always used to fund capital improvement projects and the park system pledges to
   continue to aggressively pursue outside funding in order to keep local taxes as low as possible and yet still deliver
   quality greenspace parks to Butler County residents.
• Current levy funding ends after 2022. Continued operational funding for the MetroParks system relies primarily on
   passage of a county-wide property tax levy.
• Due to customer demand, MetroParks has opened nearly 2,000 acres of parkland to the public since 2010 when the
  first levy was passed by the Butler County Voters.
• The cost of the Replacement levy for a $100,000 property would be about $24.50 per year. This would continue to
   amount to less than 7¢ per day per $100,000 in taxable value.