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Canton's parks system reacts to levy failure
Officials say ballot language may not have made it clear that the 5-year replacement levy would not increase taxes
This story is part of a special series.

Kabir Bhatia
Maintenance of Canton's Water Works park depends on the levy.
Courtesy of Tim Kiser
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The Canton Parks System is trying to figure out what to do next after yesterday’s defeat of a 5-mill, 5-year levy. It was slated to replace two smaller levies expiring at the end of this year -- one from the Parks and one from the Canton Joint Recreation District. That would have paved the way for a merger between the two agencies, which parks Director Derek Gordon says will allow them to operate more efficiently.
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“Instead of having one group mowing the outfield of the ballfield and one group raking the infield, we can hopefully have a single crew doing that. And a singular vision on maintenance, improvements, upkeep.

"The long-term cost savings of personnel reduction and things like that, we really haven’t been able to identify until we get everyone together. The goal of this was to really get everyone into one group because, according to national standards, we’re still well below the staffing needs for a community of our size.”

Gordon says officials from both agencies will have to discuss whether to join forces again for levies on next year’s ballot.

“The levy was several years in the making and we had to get a lot of different entities on the same page. I’m hopeful everyone is still on the same page, but we have some new individuals in different positions that have to help make those decisions.

"So we’re really going to have to sit everyone back down and make sure we’re all still on the same page and all still have that same vision.”

Gordon says officials from both agencies plan to discuss whether to place separate levies on the ballot next year. This election, he faults the ballot language, saying it did not make it clear that the levy resulted in no net increase for taxpayers.
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