Licking County voters again will see a parks-district levy when they go to the polls March 6.

Licking County voters again will see a parks-district levy when they go to the polls March 6.

The Licking Park District is seeking a five-year, 0.25-mill levy.

Licking County commissioner Tim Bubb said the levy is essential for the parks district, which manages recreational parks, paths and trails, to operate correctly.

Bubb said the county is able to fund the parks district only at a "minimal level" to provide the 13 parks and 42 miles of trails (including 24 miles of paved trails) with essential maintenance.

"We haven't had the money to develop these parks to their full potential," he said.

The levy is expected to generate $900,000 annually and would cost $7.66 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value.

A five-year, 0.2-mill levy request failed twice in 2010, and the Licking Park District has experienced many changes to its board, including expanding from three to five members, since then.

According to Licking County's website, funding for the parks district has been cut by almost 70 percent in the past two years, thus resulting in major decreases in financial resources and staff. The budget for 2009 was $560,103.20, according to the county auditor's office. The 2012 interim budget is $200,000.

Bubb said the parks district is unable to maintain its services adequately without the increased funding.

The parks district would use the revenue from the levy request to perform necessary repairs and maintenance and restore discontinued programs and special events, according to its website. It also would be used for development and preservation in accordance with the district's five-year strategic plan.

Licking County's parks are more than just pretty places to walk, Bubb said.

"It's a huge quality-of life-issue," he said.

Bubb said executives who are considering establishing businesses in Licking County often ask about the county's recreational opportunities.

"Bike paths are a big deal," he said. "It's a bigger issue than people think."

The Licking County Chamber of Commerce endorsed the levy request last week.

"Without the passage of this levy, our communities will suffer a great loss when our parks, paths and trails deteriorate to a point that they become unsafe for use," chamber president Cheri Hottinger said in a press release.

Bubb said he is not aware of any groups actively campaigning against the levy request.