Cleveland Metroparks hoping to win support for property tax increase

Cleveland Metroparks hoping to win support for property tax increase

EUCLID, Ohio — Cleveland Metroparks is in the midst of a final push to win over voters in Cuyahoga County and part of Medina County. Issue 5 will be on the general election ballot, proposing a 2.7 mills property tax increase.

The replacement levy would account for an increase in home values since the last levy was approved in 2013. The owner of a $100,000 property could expect to pay $27 more per year. If the levy passes, property owners’ annual contribution to the Metroparks budget would go from more than $67 to almost $95 per $100,000.

“It’s worth every penny. It’s going to be 2 votes from us, that’s for sure,” said Tom Wilford.

His wife Carrie Wilford added, “And I hope everyone votes for it because it’s a really, really great resource.”

The Euclid couple walks through Cleveland Metroparks several times a week and were among the first people to explore Eastern Ledges Trail at Euclid Creek Reservation when it debuted Thursday.

“We’ve done a lot of traveling all over the world and we come here. It’s just like being on a trip everyday,” Carrie Wilford said.

Tom Wilford added, “[We love] the incredible beauty, the incredible structures, the lake is a natural beauty, the ravines, so much history…”

The new addition to one of Metroparks’ older parks includes a suspension bridge across the creek and a mixed material trail through a forested hillside to a scenic overlook perched on land acquired in 2019.

“Today is a historic day of really reaching across the creek and connecting to Richmond Heights in really unique and prophetic ways. This is the Eastern Loop Trail,” said Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman.

During a ribbon cutting for the new trail Thursday, Zimmerman praised the surrounding communities and local leaders for their support. He’s hoping for a similar backing for Issue 5.

“We’re very hopeful and optimistic of the voter support,” he said. “But if it did fail we’d have to make major changes to the overall operation.”

The proposed replacement levy would account for more than 60% of the Cleveland Metroparks budget. Zimmerman explained the money would go to maintenance, educational programs, public safety and access to all of the park district properties.

“I support it, so I voted yes for it,” said Richmond Heights Mayor Kim Thomas. “And I encourage you, if you want a beautiful park in your community and everything Metroparks is doing for our community and the surrounding communities.”

Not everyone is on board with paying higher taxes for the Metroparks. Retiree Mary Eley said she already struggles to keep up with her current taxes on a fixed income.

“I have my own property and I don’t want to pay no more taxes than I already have. No more. It’s already steep and it’s started going up, everything’s going up,” Eley told News 5 after she said she voted “no” on Issue 5.

In 2013, the previous Metroparks levy passed with almost 70% voter support.

Cuyahoga County voters will see Issue 5 on the general election ballot. The same measure will be labeled Issue 10 for Hinckley Township voters in Medina County.

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