By Cheryl Splain, KnoxPages.com Reporter
MOUNT VERNON — A new playground at Memorial Park was the bright spot in an otherwise routine city council meeting on Monday.
Tami Ruhl, Knox County Health Department, and Steve Oster, superintendent of Knox County DD, presented a rough draft for an all-inclusive playground to be located at the back of the park near the picnic pavilion.
“What we hear from families is that when they go to parks in the city of Mount Vernon, or anywhere in the county, they're not accessible,” said Oster. “So kids with disabilities either can't play at all at the parks, or a kid with disability may play on a swing over here while all of the other kids are over there. So if you have a family and kids with disabilities and kids without disabilities, they really can't have time together in a park out in public.”
Ruhl anticipates having a final playground plan by December, with installation completed no later than December 2018. The city will maintain the equipment once it is installed.
The health department and private donations will fund the project. Oster said about two-thirds of the money has been raised thus far. If community support and fundraising are successful, the idea is to place similar equipment in other parks. Anyone who wants to donate can send checks to Knox County Board of DD, 11700 Upper Gilchrist Rd, Mount Vernon OH 43050. Write “playground fund” in the memo section of the check.
Auditor Terry Scott gave council a brief review of the property tax rate structure for municipalities. Outside millage is voted in by constituents. The Ohio Revised Code allows local governments in a county to impose inside millage up to 1 percent, or 10 mills. The city's share of Knox County's inside millage is 3.2 mills:
*.3 mills goes to police pensions and generates about $64,600
*.3 mills goes to fire pensions and generates about $64,600
*2.6 mills goes to the general fund and generates about $559,300
Scott said the collection rate is between 96 and 98 percent. “So in reality you will see $542,000 in the general fund and $62,500 or $62,600 in the police and fire funds,” he said.
Council passed legislation approving the revenue estimates; it also approved transfers and the appropriation of a $3,000 grant from United Way to the Christ-Fit Program. The Christ-Fit Program is named in honor of Christopher O'Hara, son of Bailiff Bob O'Hara; Christopher passed away due to a drug overdose. The money will be used for public education and awareness.
Legislation expanding the areas within the city where deer can be hunted received a first reading. Owners of property on Vernonview Drive have requested that deer hunting be allowed on their property.
Councilman John Francis read a proclamation designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.