The Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District may place a tax issue on the ballot next spring.

The Canal Winchester Joint Recreation District may place a tax issue on the ballot next spring.

Bob Toledo, chairman of the recreation district, said the issue would be a combined operating levy and bond issue that would be less than one mill and could cost homeowners in the Canal Winchester school district an additional $23 per $100,000 of assessed home value each year.

The issue would raise about $350,000 a year for the CWJRD and provide about $4-million in the form of a bond for facilities and parks upgrades, Toledo said.

The original ten-year contract between the school district, village and recreation district expires in two years.

Canal Winchester schools, village and parks district officials are working to update to a 50-year agreement, since most bonds have a 30-year life.

Toledo and village council members have worked since last summer to come up with a way to turn the mainly volunteer operation with more than 2,500 registered participants into something more.

"The reality of it is we're just too big for volunteers anymore," said Toledo, who had planned to resign as chairman beginning this year because of the time demands. "It's hard to hold volunteers accountable. That's why we have to get to that next level and get paid staff."

The only paid staff member is CWJRD director Val Webster, who said she earns $15 per hour of logged work. Her position was created two years ago.

Toledo said Webster logs about 30 to 40 hours per week doing administrative work for the district.

The number of hours Webster works changes from season to season. Summer and fall are the busiest, she said.

Registration fees for each activity in the recreation district vary depending on the sport, but $30 is added to each fee to pay for administrative costs, including the director's position, Toledo said.

Additional operating money from the tax issue would allow the CWJRD to remove the added $30 from each registration fee and hire more staff members.

Bond money from the tax issue could help the CWJRD build facilities and purchase land.

"The reality is we're running out of space," Toledo said.

Council member Bobbie Mershon said at council's June 15 meeting that the best way to fund new recreational facilities, like tennis courts, is through the CWJRD.

Mershon said the tax issue will have as low a millage rate as possible. She said David Conley of Robert W. Baird & Co. has been working with Toledo and her to analyze the amount needed from the tax issue.

"It's going to be as cheap as we can do it," Mershon said. "We want the CWJRD to be responsible for recreation if you're 2 or 92, and it's going to take a paid staff to do it."

Toledo said he would like to use bond money to develop Walnut Creek Park, near the Canal Winchester Middle School, or purchase all or some of the 40 acres of open land behind Roger Hanners Park off Groveport Road.

Council members approved a concept plan for Walnut Creek Park last year. Developing the park through village funds alone could take nearly a decade, Mershon said.

"If they want that thing built, we're probably the best answer," Toledo said.

Also, the open land behind Roger Hanners Park could become space for recreational facilities, he said. TS Trim Industries owns the land and put a price of about $2.5-million on it.

Toledo said if the land could be purchased by the CWJRD, facilities and fields could be built there, making it a recreation site for the area.

"That would be ideal for us," he said. "Everything would be centrally located."

He said if it grows into a tax-funded institution in the area, he would like the CWJRD to offer recreation of all sorts to adults and children.

"I want to make sure it's really what people want," he said. "My only concern is if we're going to be the only ones that are going to run it, I want to make sure it's for everybody."

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com