Officials from New Albany Parks and Recreation have been talking to local governments about Issue 8, a 1-mill replacement levy that voters will see on the May 3 ballot.

Officials from New Albany Parks and Recreation have been talking to local governments about Issue 8, a 1-mill replacement levy that voters will see on the May 3 ballot.

"The impetus for this is the current levy is over 11 years old," Tim Sokol told Plain Township trustees March 16. "We've tripled our programming and quadrupled our land."

Sokol, who is the township's appointee to the parks board, said several maintenance issues were brought to the parks board's attention last year, which, in part, has prompted the need for the levy.

"We need to respond to these concerns, improving the field surfaces, improving safety and improving with our growing population," Sokol said.

Dave Demers, one of New Albany's appointees to the parks board, spoke to village council March 15. He said the parks board asked voters in 1999 for a 0.75-mill permanent levy and received it.

Dave Wharton, the parks director, said when the district formed, the 0.75-mill levy helped the board add inventory and start a parks program.

"We've grown into that budget," he said. "We now require more to continue the services we provide."

Wharton said the current 0.75-mill levy generates $496,000 annually. With the increase to 1 mill, the levy would generate $922,000 annually for parks programs.

Because of state law, Demers said, the current levy is being collected at an effective rate of 0.52 mill. House Bill 920, which went into effect in 1976, effectively freezes voted property millage at the dollar amount collected in the first year a levy goes into effect. As property values increase, the law mandates that the effective millage decrease.

According to the parks board, the owner of a home valued at $400,000 currently pays $65.32 a year for the parks levy. That homeowner would pay $122.50 per year if the levy passes.

New Albany Parks and Recreation is operated by the New Albany-Plain Local Joint Park District, which was formed by New Albany, Plain Township and the New Albany-Plain Local School District. Each entity appointed a representative to the parks board and the organization scheduled events and operated facilities within the school district's boundaries.

New Albany Parks and Recreation has grown to include programming for 3,700 participants annually and operates three park complexes in northern Plain Township.

Wharton said part of the field-maintenance issue Sokol mentioned has to do with proper fertilization and seeding.

Not all of the district-operated fields are irrigated, which poses a problem when trying to fertilize fields.

"Without irrigation, fertilization does not help," Demers said.

Wharton said it could cost $375,000 to irrigate four fields.

In addition to irrigation, Sokol told trustees one of the primary goals was mowing. Last season, he said, some of the fields could not be used at times and games were canceled.

"It's important to maintain and service the fields for each sport," Sokol said.

Demers told council that other than lawn maintenance, the parks board also wants to add lighting to some fields and expand walking paths in the parks over time as funding permits. The board also seeks to resurface tennis courts, improve the watering system through new wells and new pumps and increase the board's grounds staff to ensure proper maintenance during busy dates at the park, according to information Demers presented to council.

Sokol said the parks board also wants to host tournaments, which could attract more visitors to the area.

Jeff Johnson, the New Albany-Plain Local School District's representative to the parks board, also made a presentation to the school board Feb. 28.