A light rainstorm during last week’s special meeting of the Russell Township Citizens’ Park District Board gradually swelled to a full-scale storm over the course of the half-hour session at Geauga Park District’s West Woods shelter. Board members recapped their recent hearing with the Geauga Budget Commission who approved the park board budget on Monday after an initial denial on Aug. 17.

“Their concern was that our levy failed, so we don’t have money to purchase properties,” board Chairman Roy Podojil said after the meeting. “We only lost by 100 votes. We attribute that to the fact that the coronavirus hit the community here and there were some people concerned about adding a levy at that particular point in time.”

A clean drinking water grant from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency also served to complicate matters, Mr. Podojil added, but since they didn’t get the levy passed they had to defer it to the Geauga Park District. Now, the county park system will use that grant to purchase the 64-acre Gallo property on Music Street that the citizens’ district originally wanted to buy using the levy, the board chair explained.

He also said that the board is going to try for the levy again in 2021, though they don’t know if they want to put it on the spring or fall ballot. While the levy would cover the vast majority of the board’s funding needs, Mr. Podojil said the board still has some money to work with.

“We have money,” he said. “We have a small quantity. A lot of that money is coming from public funding and from the library fund. So we’ve been pretty lucky so far, we’ve been able to pay our secretary and things like that with the money we have now,” he said. Because the levy didn’t pass, he added “the concern would be that, from next year forward, we’re not going to get any more public or library funding unless a levy passes.”

The board also voted to approve three purchase orders, one to the Ohio Auditor of State for $246 for Fiscal Year 2018-19 audit, which board secretary Maria Livers said was completed in August. The board authorized another payment of $570 to the Geauga County Auditor’s Office, for the 0.25-mill levy they had placed on Russell Township’s ballot on Nov. 6, 2018. The third was in the amount of $75, to pay Mrs. Livers for her work.

Board member Perry Howland asked why it had taken the county auditor so long to bill them for a levy that appeared on a ballot nearly two years ago, but no one knew.

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