Chagrin Valley Times
March 24, 2022
by Brian Doering
Geauga Park District Board of Commissioners announced the resignation of commissioner Linda Smallwood during last Monday’s meeting.
Executive Director John Oros read a letter from Ms. Smallwood explaining her decision to leave the board.
“Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Geauga Park Commissioner. During my short time in this role I have been impressed with the quality of our parks. This is a direct reflection of your leadership. Regrettably I must resign my position unexpectedly,” the letter states. “My commitment to Cardinal Schools is taking every bit of my energy and resources. As such, I am not able to give the Geauga County Park Board the attention and focus that it deserves. To stay on the board would be a disservice to you, the staff, and our community.”
Ms. Smallwood was named as one of the new board of commissioners in January of this year and was expected to serve a three-year term ending Dec. 31 of 2024.
“I believe that my resignation will provide an opportunity for someone who can dedicate the time and energy that you all deserve,” the letter states. “I wish you and staff the best of luck and continued success. I will continue to enjoy our beautiful parts as often as possible.”
In other business, Geauga Park District Treasurer and Fiscal Officer Jennifer Pae provided an overview to park board commissioners of the revenue the park district receives walking through the funding sources which includes grants, gifts & donations and other revenues including an explanation of the documents provided by the Geauga County Auditor’s Office that the park district will use to put together the 2023 tax budget this summer.
“As we discussed at the last meeting in January or February, we will be doing monthly financial work sessions, so this month we are going to talk about the park district revenues and really focus on property taxes because that is overwhelmingly the largest revenue that the park district receives,” said Mrs. Pae.
According to Mrs. Pae’s presentation, from 2001 to 2021 the average annual property tax revenue that the district received was $6.124 million.
The average of the total annual grants/intergovernmental, gifts & donations and other revenues from 2001 to 2021 was $2.068 million which are one-time revenues and often reimbursements for the park district.
“On average, those types of revenues have been a little over $2 million, so we have been pretty steady around that $8 million between the property tax and those small others going back, but it’s really important that I have to stress is that those grants other gifts and donations are one-time dollars, so we really can depend on the property tax for the most part, unless what happened last year,” said Mrs. Pae.
During last year’s meeting with the Geauga County Budget Commission, the collection on a levy authorized by voters in 2012 was reduced by commissioners from 1.0 mills to .40 mills resulting in a $1,943,214 reduction for a one-year period.
The budget commission reviewed the park district’s budget on Aug. 16 which did not include $1.9 million in property taxes the district expected to collect in 2022 which were blamed on a transpositional error at the time by park district’s previous fiscal officer Michael Frederick.
The commission’s stance on the issue was, if the park district did not have that amount in the budget, the funds are not needed for 2022 and passed a resolution that decreased the amount to be collected in 2022 by $1.9 million.
Park board commissioners also approved a resolution authorizing Executive Director John Oros to execute and file a grant application with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for its Recreational Trails Program.
“We have some grooming equipment including an old snowmobile that has seen better days, it’s been trailered in between parks and the salt has gotten the best of it,” said Mr. Oros. “We are writing a grant for somewhere around $60,000, that’s where it’s currently at waiting for a revised quote for a piece of grooming equipment.”
Park board commissioners then accepted and awarded the contract for the Frohring Meadows Pollinator Play Garden Project to L. Caticchio & Son, Inc. in the amount of $93,151.
L. Caticchio & Son, Inc. successfully completed subcontract work on the 2019 Frohring Meadows Improvements, 2020 Welton’s Gorge Improvements and the 2021 Veteran’s Legacy Woods Improvement projects for the Geauga Park District.
Only one lump sum bid was received for the project and was well within the budgeted amount $130,000.
Park board commissioners also approved the purchase of a new John Deer Tractor that is replacing a 2004 tractor utilized to maintain Maple Highlands Trail and multiple dams within the park district.
The total cost is $126,642 which falls within the not to exceed budgeted amount of $150,000.
Park board commissioners then reviewed and approved the purchase of a new excavator and attachments through the Sourcewell Cooperative Procurement Program in an amount not to exceed $90,000 which is within the original budgeted amount of $130,000 for the excavator.
A request to advertise to bid for the upgrade and replacement of the HVAC system in the lodge at Veteran’s Legacy Woods was also approved by park board commissioners.
The meeting on was held on March 21 at the Meyer Center at Big Creek Park. The next Geauga Park District Board meeting is scheduled for April 18 at 8:30 a.m.