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Park Board Debt Relief Has Support

Wyse Says Council Can Help Park Board Without Tax Hike


Jim Wyse, Archbold mayor, said he believes there is a unanimous consensus among Archbold Village Council members that something must be done to alleviate the Archbold Park Board debt.

He said he believes council can come to the aid of the park board without raising taxes, and without canceling or postponing any other public works projects.

$2.45 million

Wyse discussed the $2.45- million debt park board carries on the construction of Woodland Park at the Monday night, March 2, council meeting.

With a downturn in income tax revenue, the park board, which relies on a one quarter of one percent (.25%) share of the tax, has seen available funding drop.

Last year, the board was able to apply only $50,000 toward retiring the principal on the notes used to finance the park.

At that rate, it will take 34 years to pay off the debt, a time line Wyse called “not acceptable.”

Wyse recommended council reach into its own share of the village coffers to assist the park board with the debt problem.

Wyse said at this point, there is no definite plan for exactly how much money will go to park board.

A definite time frame for park board assistance has not been set.

Reallocate

Wyse said one idea put forward by a member of the community was to raise the Archbold village income tax by one-quarter of one percent (.25%) for three years.

Patricia Dominique, Archbold income tax commissioner, said in 2008, the park board’s current share of the tax generated about $700,000.

If an additional quarter percent were added to the tax, it would essentially double the park board income. Over three years, it would generate an about $2.1 million in addi- tional income.

That’s if the tax revenues remain stable. The last few years, revenues have dropped.

But the discussion is moot.

While a one-quarter of a one percent increase in the income tax is not a large amount of money, Wyse said he will not ask anyone to assume a larger tax burden in the current economic conditions.

He said he believes council can go into its own accounts and reallocate enough money to assist park board.

For example, Wyse said after the downtown reconstruction project was completed in 2005, village officials cut back on spending, with the goal of rebuilding the capital projects fund balances.

Also, when ConAgra announced it was closing in 2006, village officials began accumulating money in the wastewater treatment plant funds. Because ConAgra is by far the largest customer of the wastewater plant, closing ConAgra would have been a large blow to the wastewater plant’s finances.

ConAgra reversed its plant closure decision in 2007, and as a result, Wyse said there is a large fund balance in the wastewater plant account.

Diamonds

Part of the reasoning behind the construction of Woodland Park was to move the Parks & Recreation soccer programs away from Memorial Park, to make room for additional baseball diamonds.

During the summer months, the four diamonds at Memorial are so busy, youth leagues find themselves practicing as early as 7 am.

Wyse advocated building “bare bones” diamonds in Memorial Park.

He envisions the diamonds as portable backstops, portable bleachers for parents, a bench for players, and some bases thrown in the grass.

He did not know what it would cost to build such a bare bones diamond, he said.

“It would be like playing in your back yard,” he said.

Wyse said some people have not agreed with his method of helping the park board with its debt, “but they understand we need to do something.”


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