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Published: Wednesday, 5/4/2005

Sylvania senior citizen, fire levies are defeated

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania city and township voters yesterday resoundingly rejected two levies for the township fire department and another tax issue for the Sylvania Senior Center, according to unofficial, incomplete results last night.

Although all ballots had not yet been tabulated by the Lucas County Board of Elections as of midnight, supporters of the levies conceded defeat after surveying individual voting sites.

Dennis Boyle, chairman of the township trustees, said the two levies could be defeated by a margin as high as 4-1.

George Gernot III, a member of the committee supporting the senior center levy, said vote totals from all but two precincts showed 2,735 votes in favor of the measure and 4,285 against. He added that the total did not reflect any absentee ballots.

The two fire issues sought a total of 4.05 mills to allow for hiring a total of 18 firefighters and the construction of four fire stations in the district.

The senior center levy sought 0.45 mills for operations.

Mr. Boyle said the overwhelming defeat of all three levies indicates the voters were not judging the fire department or the senior center, but were saying, "We just don't want to pay any more taxes, period.''

The trustees and the fire department administration will have to sit down and make some decisions about future operations of the department, Mr. Boyle said.

"It's already a lean department,'' he said. "The need is still there, but the money won't be. We're not a shrinking community. We're a growing community, with growing needs."

Mr. Boyle added that it is too early to say if the trustees will consider putting a fire issue on the ballot later this year.

Had the capital improvements levy passed, a new station was to be constructed on Sylvania-Metamora Road, west of Centennial Road, and three replacement stations were to be built at Whiteford and Summerfield roads, Central Avenue and Plainview Drive, and in the 4900 block of Holland-Sylvania Road, next to the township hall.

The proposed new facilities would have replaced stations now at Whiteford and Monroe Street, Central near Wilford Road, and Main Street in downtown Sylvania.

The township's newest station, on Sylvania Avenue, just east of Centennial, was not included in any changes.

The levy for operations would have allowed hiring of 9 firefighters now, and an additional 9 would have been hired after the construction of the proposed station on Sylvania-Metamora.

The new locations were recommended by a study conducted by consultants from the University of Toledo.

The changes, the study said, are needed because stations are outmoded and the new locations would improve response times now and as the township grows.

The township operates the fire department, which also responds to fire and medical emergencies in the city of Sylvania.

Opponents of the levy had argued that the issues were asking for too much and questioned the management of the department by the township.

The capital improvements measure was for 1.1 mills and the operating levy was for 2.95 mills. They would have raised the taxes of the owner of a $200,000 house by $248.20 annually

Most civic groups in the fire district supported the levy, although the Sylvania City Council chose to remain neutral.

The senior center issue was to replace an operating levy of 0.32 mills which expires at the end of this year.

Mr. Gernot said it is likely the issue will be placed before the voters this year.

"Our operating levy is expiring, and we can't continue to operate at our current level," if the levy isn't replaced, he said.

"We don't really have a choice."

The owner of a $200,000 would have paid $27.56 annually had the measure passed.

Contact Mike Jones at:

mjones@theblade.com

or 419-724-6096.



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