Despite its sole regular income of $23,500 in farm rents, Seneca County Park District is expected to carry over $26,000 into 2013.
Other than cropland rent from Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve, the district depends on grants and donations to round out its budget.
During a detailed report to the board Wednesday evening, board member Jim Nordholt said the park district will have less carryover from this year's budget than it had from 2011 into this year, "but we're doing fairly well," he said.
The park district's overall budget for 2012 was $98,474. In addition to cropland rents, that amount comes mainly from $34,500 in grants, $4,000 in donations and carryover from the previous year.
The budget for Out & About Preschool also is expected to carry over about $2,200. Preschool Director Linda Rose said the preschool remains at full enrollment.
A budget committee of Director Pat Obringer and board members Roland Zimmerman and Nordholt were appointed to recommend a 2013 budget, with Rose to be included for the preschool budget portion.
Later in the meeting, Rose suggested the board begin to think about when would be a good time to place an operating levy before voters. She suggested a good time might be in November while the park district is fresh in people's minds following Oktober Fest, which takes place the first Sunday of October each year.
Rose said people mentioned the topic to her last Sunday, and several other people at the meeting said they also heard comments on the subject.
"There's a lot of people who think we have a tax base right now, which we don't," said board chairman Russ Rife. "For people to stand in the rain and wait to get food, just blew me away, I know it's good food, but I think it's more support for our parks than anything."
To the best of their memories without looking up the history, board members said the last levy attempt was in 2007, and the measure was defeated by 600 votes.
Members agreed there is a much broader base of support for the parks now than there has been in the past. Because of the addition of Cinton Nature Preserve just outside of Tiffin, Bowen Nature Preserve in West Lodi, the new Mercy Community Nature Preserve and other park areas, the park district name has become better known.
To prepare for possible levy, board members suggested they work on getting in better touch with voters in the Fostoria area. Board member Roy Zinn suggested looking into the advice of other county park districts that have placed levies on the ballot in recent years.
Regarding the nature area at Mercy Tiffin Hospital, committee chairman Katheren Gase said the group is hoping to open the park in early spring.
She said a prospective Eagle Scout is building a bridge on the property and another is considering a project to build steps into one of the hills.
About 10 volunteers have been working on trail development, she said, and she is working with Obringer on the signs needed.
Board members suggested the use of materials from a boardwalk donated to the park district by the Sisters of St. Francis for use over an area of vernal pools, which is wet in the spring.
Volunteer graphic designer Archie Clark said he has walked the new area to create GPS points he uses to create a map. Clark also presented the board with a mock-up of a revised visitor guide.
During his report, Obringer said he plans to apply for $8,000 in grant money from Ottawa-Sandusky-Seneca Joint Solid Waste District to buy signs, picnic tables and benches made from recycled materials for the new Mercy Community Nature Preserve. He is getting prices for the items to finalize the application. Charles Ervin, senior director of facilities and campus planning at Mercy Tiffin, said the Mercy park committee can help with the required matching fund of $2,600. The remainder of the match would come from in-kind work and other donations.
Obringer also said the road and parking lot at Steyer Nature Preserve are ready for stone as soon as he can coordinate people and equipment needed to complete the project. The project is being funded by grant money from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
During a report about Forrest Nature Preserve, the board approved volunteer Diane Hudok to apply linseed oil to the shelter at Forrest Nature Preserve before an open house set for Oct. 21.
Also at Forrest preserve, Zinn said trails for the additional land added earlier this year have been mapped out on paper. He said it would be nice to get the trails cut in the grassland before the open house.
During a Friends of the Seneca County Park District prior to the board meeting, Zimmerman gave tribute to the late Mike Wheatley, who died early this week. He said Wheatley was instrumental in getting the first 256 acres of park district land donated by Alma and Dolly Garlo. At the time, he was an bald eagle watcher at the site and made the suggestion to the sisters. Wheatley also was the first president of the Friends.
The Friends are taking donations to put toward a board dedicated to Mike and his wife, Rose, on the boardwalk at Garlo preserve.
The board also:
Met in executive session to discuss property.
Approved moving $18,000 in the Contract Services Fund, increasing it to $24,000, to cover the stone project at Steyer preserve, a roof on the log cabin restoration at Garlo preserve and other items.
Decided to hold over until spring about $10,000 in remaining ODOT grant funds to further review possible projects during the winter.
Heard the district received $440 from a scrap metal collection fundraiser at Garlo preserve.
Learned the Friends of the Seneca County Park District made a preliminary $12,000 at this year's Oktober Fest, compared to $10,000 last year.
Heard a new Friends brochure has been completed, and the group is planning a membership drive.
The board's next meeting is at 7 p.m. Nov. 14, preceded by a Friends meeting at 6 p.m.