By Danielle Coots
For the News-Current
BEAVERCREEK — Three parks departments are looking to consolidate: City of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Township and Beavercreek Township Park District.
The consideration for consolidation has been suggested since 2012. By consolidating the services, officials estimate to save money and ensure efficiency. After being presented to city council, the issue was tabled.
“This will consolidate three park districts,” Beavercreek Public Administrative Director Mike Thonnerieux said. “They will then fall under one umbrella called ‘The Parks District.’ It’s not a new district to be created. This was part of a 5-10 year plan to make it easier for residents to contact the parks when reserving shelters, for example. This will eliminate multiple levies and have one face with parks.”
The three entities will be working together beginning January to present a proposal for a levy to be placed on the November ballot. The parks department will be asking for a .9 mill levy. Due to the recent passing of a levy, Beavercreek residents are already paying this amount for parks, therefore esidents will not be required to pay any additional tax money. The money be allocated to the park’s committee that has already been determined. Upon passage of the new levy, the city will notify the tax department to stop the allotted funds going to the city. The new levy would then provide the funds to the parks district.
“Taking away the decisions of parks from city council is really hard for me,” Beavercreek Vice Mayor Julie Vann said.
“These aren’t foreign people making decisions for our parks,” Beavercreek City Councilwoman Deborrah Wallace said. “They’re residents of our community. They live, work and use the parks where we all live. I think less government involvement the better and having three government entities to run parks in the same geographical area is exorbitant. This is going to streamline our expenses and make our tax dollars go further. I love the idea of saving money. I believe the committee will communicate with city council, staff and members of the parks district to make sure everyone is happy. We’re already paying the money to the levy and to make it specific to the parks is a great idea.”
It’s estimated that the consolidation will help save approximately 25 percent. The appointed parks committee would be responsible for recommending park programs, improvements, budget issues and be the main contact for the parks department. Their main and only focus would be that of the parks department.
If the park levy does not pass to allow the consolidation, the city will continue to collect levy money from the original source. But for the township and park district – they may have to propose their own levy.
“I think there’s an advantage on having one entity that just focuses on one specific service. That is, it frees up, for instance, the roads department to solely focus on roads and not parks. So, it gives more focus to staff. Also, for example, instead of having three people calling for prices on mulch, we’ll only have one person responsible or that,” said Thonnerieux.
Mayor Stone requested that this issue be tabled to allow public input through a community forum and to allow time for staff to bring forward specific levy language. The issue will come before city council again in the near future.
Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.