Future of Jackson County Parks on ballot in August election

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JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — Voters across Michigan will head to the polls next Tuesday to cast ballots in the August primary.

 

But it’s not just a decision about candidates.

 

In Jackson County, voters are set to decide the future of the parks system.

 

There will be a new $21.8 million millage on the ballot that officials say will improve parks, but also prevent some parks from closing.

 

Jackson County has 17 county parks where you can splash around, play, relax and exercise.

 

But parks director Jeff Hovarter says all this fun comes with a cost.

 

“Those parks won’t be in existence if we don’t find a sustainable long-term funding source,” Hovarter said.

 

Next Tuesday, Jackson County Parks is asking voters to consider the 10 year millage.

 

Hovarter says it makes up for dwindling tax revenues, and his department is struggling with a budget of just $800,000 a year.

 

“That allows us the ability to mow grass and pick up trash. Between that and the security and the maintenance of the equipment, that pretty much exhausts the budget,” Hovarter said.

 

He says they’ve already identified $20 million worth of repairs, so the millage would be put to use right away. 

 

“A lot of them have become safety issues. Playground safety issues, issues with erosion along the beachfronts and the boat launches, trail systems,” Hovarter said.

 

Money will also be used to upgrade the Cascades Waterfall and grandstands at the fairgrounds, along with adding new features, like fishing docks and boat launches.

    

The millage intends to collect $2.18 million a year over 10 years.

 

For a taxpayer with a home worth $100,000, the millage amounts to an extra $25 a year in taxes.

 

“So about $250 dollars over 10 years,” Hovarter said.

 

He says it’s a small price to pay considering they may have to shut down several parks if the millage doesn’t pass.

 

“The response has been positive but it really is about folks coming out and at least having a voice in deciding where this county parks system ought to go,” Hovarter said.

 

To see what’s on the ballot in your community, visit this link.

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