Wood County park employees get pay increase, community grants awarded


A 3% across the board employee raise was part of a $4.5 million 2023 operating budget approved at the December 13 meeting of the Wood County District Parks Board.

Costs in the budget included $1.9 million for employee salaries, including a 3% increase. Health care insurance costs totaled $344,148 and capital improvement funds were set at $561,800.

Park director Chris Smalley said he was 80 to 90% confident that this budget will meet costs for 2023. If not, he said other revenue streams may be explored, including rental costs, pointing out their costs are lower than any in the area.

The park district is expected to net $3.4 million from the 10-year 1-mill operating levy passed in 2018.

Included in the operating budget was $100,000 in grant money to 19 Wood County agencies for park and outdoor recreation improvements. In order to avoid bias, said Smalley, the three-person committee selecting the grantees was from park districts outside of the county

The amounts range from $16,185 each to both Millbury and Haskins to purchase bleachers to $638 to Troy Township for a message center.

The other agencies were

Bloomdale, $2,900 for trash receptacles

Bradner, $4,689 for a ball field fence

Custar, $2,926 for assorted park improvements

Cygnet, $5,000 for playground equipment

Grand Rapids, $2,340 for picnic tables

Jerry City, $9,999 for a basketball court

Luckey, $5,000 for benches

North Baltimore, $5000 for playground equipment

Northwood, $2,239 for shelter tables

Pemberville, $2,488 for bridge replacement wood

Perrysburg Township, $4,000 for playground equipment

Portage, $4,700 for ballfield improvements

Tontogany, $4,454 for basketball improvements

Walbridge, $2,227 for dugout improvements

Webster Township, $4,000 for benches

West Millgrove, $5,000 for playground mulch

Park employees can also expect a bonus in their paychecks, after the board agreed to use $12,000 of state funding to issue lump-sum payments to park employees.

Smalley said the money will be used to help maintain employee quality.

“We just want our employees to know how much we appreciate them,” he said.

He said that a section of ORC regulations allowed them to use money earmarked for the protection and preservation of the parks, parkways, historic sites and other reservations of land under their jurisdiction and control.

A breakdown has:

• full-time employees earning $46,000 or less receiving $500

• full-time earning $46,000 to $62,000 receiving $400

• full-time earning $62,000 to $72,000 receiving $300

• part-time working 20 hours per week receiving $300

Employees earning over $72,000 are not part of the lump-sum payment program.

The board granted Smalley permission to negotiate a 2023 lease agreement to farm the 53.5 acres at Bradner Preserve.

The board also approved policy updates to the park police manual in regards to use of force, ride-alongs and medical aid response.

A modification of the policy concerning COVID-related remote work was approved by the board. Smalley said that this change was needed because they needed at least some staff on site on a daily basis.

The board also approved a $12,716 purchase of two new floor scrubbers for the Otsego and W.W. Knight parks. Smalley said the current 17-year-old floor scrubbers were too old to have a trade-in value. One will be kept for backup, the other sold.

Board members also recognized two members, Denny Parish and Kim Rose, for their service.

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