Residents can expect to see a renewal parks levy on the May 4 ballot in Orange Township.

Residents can expect to see a renewal parks levy on the May 4 ballot in Orange Township.

Township trustees on Jan. 19 took the first step to place a three-year, 1.5-mill renewal levy on the ballot. They passed a resolution to have the Delaware County auditor certify millage for the the levy.

Trustee chairman Nelson Katz said it is important to act now because Feb. 18 is the deadline to place an issue on the May ballot.

Trustees John Cassady and Rob Quigley agreed.

"We could use more (money)," Quigley said. "We don't feel this is the right time to ask for more."

Cassady said township officials are following the parks master plan, which was devised with input from residents.

"I believe a renewal levy strikes the proper balance," he said, both keeping taxes as low as possible and in moving forward with park projects.

The current three-year levy was approved in 2007 and collections expire at the end of 2010. That levy raises about $1.5-million a year and costs the owner of a $200,000 home about $30 a year.

The parks department's capital budget for 2010 is about $2.9-million with $2.8-million earmarked for improvements, mostly new leisure trails throughout the township.

Beth Hugh, parks and maintenance director, told trustees the township is seeking four state grants this year totalling about $1-million. The grants are reimbursements, meaning the township must spend its own money first on projects before getting any state money. If a levy isn't approved, the township likely would lose that state money, she said.

In addition to the 2010 projects, the township hopes to spend about $10.5-million in future years to complete leisure trails and other related projects, Hugh added.

Trustees also approved raises, retroactive to Jan. 1, for 12 non-union township employees. Katz said after the meeting these were merit raises based on performance and that all the raises were around 4 percent or less. Among those getting raises were township administrator Gail Messmer, fire chief Tom Stewart, assistant chief Matt Noble and director Hugh.

Messmer's salary goes from $2,696 every two weeks to $2,804, Stewart's from $3,361 to $3,496 and Noble's from $3,047 to $3,169. Hugh goes from $30 an hour to $31.05.