For the first time in 54 years, Oakland County Parks and Recreation is asking voters to approve a tax increase to help maintain existing services and resources while providing new options for residents as well.
The 13-park system, with a combined 7,000 acres and 80 miles of trails, is seeking to use the additional revenue to improve, operate, and maintain park, open space, water areas, trails, and recreation areas.
On Aug. 6, the board of commissioners approved the ballot language of .35 mills ($0.35 per $1,000 taxable value) for placement on the November ballot with the current .2310 property tax rate ($0.23 per $1,000 taxable value) set to expire in December 2021. If approved, the new tax rate will cost the owner of a home or business valued at $200,000 (taxable value of $100,000 approximately) $12 more, for a total of $35 year to maintain the parks system.
Dan Stencil, executive officer of the county parks system, said it’s time to provide more high quality parks, programs, and service to county residents after years of continued budget cuts, which have put capital and maintenance projects on hold.
“The parks commission works tirelessly to ensure that taxpayer funding is utilized in a way that meets the needs and wants of our residents,” he said “This year alone, we’ve reduced our operating budget twice in our continuing effort to be fiscally responsible. Across our 13 parks, we have about 200 facilities, many of which are more than 30 years old.”
Stencil said the additional revenue will be put right back into improving park infrastructure, assets and facilities to ensure the parks can keep operating safely and comfortably for its two million annual visitors.
“If you think of all the technology that has changed in 54 years or how we’ve grown since 1966, you can understand why Oakland County Parks and Recreation needs to get current with the times,” he added.
How will the new funding be used?
- Free county park day-use passes to seniors (62+), veterans, active military and individuals with permanent disabilities
- Expanding the trails network
- Improving environment protection and sustainability efforts
- Continuing funding for OCPR’s annual operations
- Repairing deferred maintenance in county parks
- Preserving and supporting community partnerships that expand recreation opportunities for residents
Here’s what Oakland County voters will see on their November ballots:
The Oakland County Parks System includes 7000 acres and 80 miles of trails preserving and protecting the environment. There are 13 Oakland County Parks and recreational activities throughout the County including campgrounds, dog parks, golf courses, water parks, and mobile recreation units. To continue to provide revenue to the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission, shall the current millage, which has been reduced by required rollback, be replaced and increased to .35 mills for 10 years from 2020 to 2029? The .35 mills is equal to 35 cents per $1,000.00 of taxable value. The millage, if approved and levied, will generate approximately $22,026,860.00 in 2020. The purpose of the millage is to improve, operate, and maintain parks, open space and water areas, trails, and recreation facilities; to allow for free day-use park admission for seniors (62 and over), military, veterans, and residents with permanent disabilities; to expand trails; to enhance local recreation programs; and to increase environmental conservation and recreation activities. Revenue from this millage will be disbursed only to the County of Oakland to be used solely for the purpose of funding the Oakland County Parks and Recreation Commission with external audits and oversight by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
The Oakland County Parks and Recreation’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget was approved at $28 million by the parks commission on Sept. 2 and then by the board of commissioners on Sept. 23. It was developed based on the need to maintain, improve and manage more than 230 assets, buildings, natural areas and recreation features.
The Capital Improvement Program and Maintenance Management Plan Projects are budgeted at $2.79 million. Here’s a list of some of the major projects planned for 2021:
- Replacement of the children’s water feature at Red Oaks Waterpark in Madison Heights
- Replacement of HVAC system at the Activity Center in Springfield Oaks County Park
- Electrical improvements at Addison Oaks County Park’s Conference Center
- Natural area restoration at the Mill Pond Dam in Springfield Oaks County Park
- Continued Natural Resource stewardship at all park locations
- Replacement of the irrigation system at White Lake Oaks County Park
- Upgrades to the disc golf course at Addison Oaks County Park
- Painting the historic Ellis Barn at Springfield Oaks County Park in Davisburg
More information about the millage request can be found at https://www.oakgov.com/parks/2020Millage/Pages/default.aspx.