Sugarcreek Twp. issues on the ballot

Sugarcreek Twp. voters next week will be asked to approve a park levy, two road levies and a change in township statue.

Road levies

The township officials are seeking a replacement of the current 0.8 mil levy and an additional 0.6 mil levy both for five years.

The 0.6 mil levy would raise $195,000 annually and cost the owner of a home appraised at 100,000 about $18.38. The 0.8 mil levy would raise $260,000 annually and cost the owner of that home $24.50 annually.

Some township residents like Denise Toth have expressed concern that the township is asking for more money for roads, but officials say the additional revenue is badly needed.

“We have to have it. The roads are deteriorating very quickly. The money that we have is from 1996,” Sugarcreek Twp. Administrator Barry Tiffany Tiffany said. “It begins to hurt property value at some point. That’s the last thing you would want is it to start hurting property values because of the roads.”

The conditions of Little Sugarcreek, Carpenter, Conference roads are of particular concern. Tiffany said the current 0.8 mil levy was first passed in 1996 and has an effective millage rate of 0.56 mils. It costs the owner of a $100,000 home $17.34 annually and generates about $188,000 a year.

If the levy is rejected, Tiffany said the township would have a $463,000 shortfall for road projects. Its annual revenues for roads is $552,000, roughly 275,000 less than its expenses.

Voters last year rejected a five-year, 1.4-mill road levy. It would have generated $454,000 a year. This is the last year the money for the current expired levy will be collected.

Park levy

The two other local issues on the ballot deal with the properties connected to the Dille family.

The Bellbrook Sugarcreek Park District wants 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 which Stewart and other describe as having pristine seasons, would be used 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.

“They say we have enough apartment complexes. We have enough retail stores,” Stewart said. “We are putting it in the voters’ hands to decide. Politicians and developers should not decide destiny of that parcel of land.”

The park levy has raised the ires of community activist Jim Martin and other who think it would be better if the land were developed. Martin maintains the land is the only large parcel left in the township that could be used for commercial and industrial development to offset the high price of residential property taxes.

Township resident Donna Hellman said she was disappointed trustees did not put out a postion paper explaining the pros and cons of the levy which she does not support.

We have bigger things to worry about as far as where tax dollars go,” Hellman said. “I would prefer to see the money spent on the road levy.”

Township trustees expressed worries that the park could be annexed by the Centerville before learning of an amendment that allows the Dille family to keep about 10 acres of land between Interstate 675 and the new park site.

The amendment creates a “buffer” to annexation because the Dilles would have to agree to sell their land before the park land could be annexed.

Home rule question

Township trustees voted this summer in favor of placing a home rule question on the November ballot. It would change the township’s form of government to “limited home” rule from “statutory township.”

The home rule question stems from years of volleying with Centerville over a 268-acre Dille site located across I-675 from the would-be park site. The city of Centerville has been cleared to use tax-increment financing to develop the site.

Township officials say that “limited home” rule would allow it to provide incentives to developers and become more competitive with other communities in attracting new business.

While some residents, including Martin, say the designation would give trustees too much power, it remains on the ballot for approval from Sugarcreek Twp. voters.

Officials say the change would be a great economic development tool and make it easier for the township to borrow enough money for public infrastructure improvement projects many developers find attractive.

Tiffany said the issue still remains an important one as it will help the township with future development.

“It is not moot because we have other land that is going to develop,” he said. “We have to be prepare to deal with the other landlowners.”

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