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Mayor: Help Park Board Retire $2.45 Million Debt




Jim Wyse, Archbold mayor, proposed using Village of Archbold capital improvement funds to help the Archbold Park Board retire about $2.45 million in debt.

Additionally, to relieve crowding on the Memorial Park baseball diamonds, he proposed constructing two “bare bones” diamonds on land formerly used for soccer.

Falling Revenues

Wyse told council members at the Monday night, March 2, meeting that park board’s only source of revenue is the village income tax. The board receives a quarter percent (.25%) share of the tax.

In 2002, park board and council agreed to construct Woodland Park in three phases. Total cost: $2,875,093.

From 2000 until 2006, park board’s share of the income tax grew from $682,164 to $815,346.

Construction on the final phase started in 2006.

However, Kenny Cowell, councilman, and Larry Baus, former councilman, voted against Phase III, because of money concerns.

After 2006, income tax revenue, including the park board’s share, began to fall. Today, Wyse said park board is back to 2000-level income, which is about $680,000.

When park board saw revenues declining, they cut costs. Since 2006, some areas have been cut as much as 25%.

Also, plans for two new baseball diamonds at Memorial Park were shelved.

Even with the expense cuts and delaying the new diamonds, in 2008 the park board was only able to pay $50,000 toward the principal on the notes used to finance Woodland Park.

The interest payment was $85,000.

“At that rate, it will take 34 years to get that paid off. That’s not an acceptable time frame,” Wyse said.

Infrastructure

Wyse said the park board paid for $548,402.87 in infrastructure, including roads, waterlines, and sanitary and storm sewers, some of which could benefit the village in the future.

He said he believes the infrastructure costs should come from the village’s capital improvement budget.

Wyse presented several scenarios for using village funds for debt retirement; one involved using $1 million of village tax revenue over the next two years.

Assuming current interest rates, he estimated the park board could retire the remaining debt in 22 years, and build baseball diamonds with park board, grant, and private funding.

During the summer months, the diamonds at Memorial Park are busy from 7 am to 10:30 pm. He cited the benefit of youth programs.

“I urge council to consider assisting the Park Board with debt reduction at some level, so one or two modest and bare-bones ball diamonds can be built in Memorial Park,” said Wyse.

Debate

No action was taken by council, but council members did discuss the issue.

Kevin Eicher said the issue should have been addressed six to eight months prior, but Wyse said he had been researching the issue for some time.

Wyse said when it appeared ConAgra was leaving the village council did not hesitate to come to the aid of the village water department; which, he said, has its own source of income.

Cowell, however, said a park and a water or wastewater plant can’t be compared.

Cowell said the first priority should be to eliminate the debt. Kevin Morton, council liaison to the park board, said park board members are concerned about the debt issue.

Eicher asked about the possibility of raising the income tax by a half-percent, but Jeff Fryman said that would put pressure on the schools if the school district had to put a levy on the ballot.

In addition, Wyse said most communities are at the 1.5% level.

Buck Stops Here

Fryman said while it seems council and park board are two different entities, “it boils down to the debt lies with us. We are going to have to take the responsibility the get this knocked down.

“The buck stops with us,” he said.


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