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Bellbrook voters being asked to approve levies

Bellbrook voters will be asked to renew a longstanding general fund levy that helps pay for police, fire and roads as well as a new levy to purchase land that would be used as a new park.

General fund renewal in Bellbrook

The city seeks a renewal of a five-year, 1.3 mill general fund levy.

If approved, it would continue to cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 about $38.32 annually, according to information from county auditor David Graham’s office.

Council Member Denny Bennett and others point out that the city is not asking for additional funds. There has been no obvious organized opposition to the levy, but city officials worry that residents are tightening their belts due to economic pressures and that there is a general anti-tax climate in the country.

“This has been in place since 1962,” Bennett said of the levy. “There is no reason not to vote for this levy. We enjoy nice city streets. We have the best fire and police protection money can buy and we don’want to jepordize that.”

The levy raises about $200,000 annually, just under 20 percent of the city’s $1.5 million general fund budget. The city’s overall budget is about $7 million.

Bellbrook City Manager Mark Schlagheck has estimated the city will lose $100,000 to $200,000 annually due to the elimination of the state’s estate tax and an additional $125,000 yearly due to state cuts to the local government fund.

Park levy

The Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District seeks Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Twp. voter approval of an 0.6-mill tax levy to cover the $3 million purchase of parkland. The levy would cost the owner of a home appraised at $100,000 $18.38 annually.

The proposed park, roughly 250 acres of land owned by the Dille family, is located east of Interstate 675 with frontage on Feedwire, Little Sugarcreek and Swigart roads in Sugarcreek Township.

Jeff Stewart, park district executive director, said the levy is expected to generate $300,000 annually — about $6 million during the 20 year term of the levy — and will be collected to pay back a loan and interest for purchasing the land.

If approved, the site would be — at least at first — solely for recreational activities like hiking.

The plan has had its critics, but Stewart said most of the feedback he has received has been in favor of the park.

The levy has caused concerns from some Sugarcreek Twp. residents who say the land would be better used for commercial or industrial development to offset residential property taxes.

Stewart said the Dille family wants the land used as the park and as land owners, their desires should take precident over those who would have it used for a business venture.

“We were asked to save this parcel of land,” Stewart said. “It is not up to a township or park district or for that matter other land owners.”

He said the issue will not likely appear on the ballot again if it is defeated.