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Published: Wednesday, 7/20/2005

Wilkowski urges tax-sharing for projects

Mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski yesterday proposed that Toledo form tax-sharing agreements with suburban cities to jump-start development of the Marina District and Southwyck Shopping Center.

Mr. Wilkowski, a Democrat, cited as his model the revenue sharing Toledo has on zones located in Maumee, Monclova Township, and Rossford - agreements he crafted as an attorney for Toledo.

"If we have suburbs investing in Toledo, it will usher in a new day in Toledo," he said.

He said the city should establish the joint economic development zones with Maumee, Oregon, Sylvania, Rossford, Northwood, and Perrysburg and share income tax revenues from zones located in the city of Toledo - starting with Southwyck and the Marina District.

It was not clear what would prompt neighboring communities to invest in the declining South Toledo mall or the proposed 125-acre development in East Toledo when both entities have struggled with finding private investment.

Mr. Wilkowski said state law allows municipal partners to contribute money, services, or marketing. He said such plans would give suburban communities a tangible stake in the economic health of Toledo.

The news conference, in front of Waite High School with the Marina District in the background, provided Mr. Wilkowski an opportunity to highlight his work on behalf of Toledo, both as law director from 1990 to 1993 and as a privately retained attorney since then in negotiating the cooperative economic zones.

He estimated the city earns about $600,000 each year from the existing agreements, and stands to earn at least $30 million over the life of the agreements.

One neighboring mayor said Mr. Wilkowski told him of his idea, and he was interested in hearing more.

"As I told Mr. Wilkowski, nothing is so dangerous that it can't be discussed," Maumee Mayor Timothy Wagener said. "It's a very interesting idea."

One of Mr. Wilkowski's opponents, Republican Rob Ludeman, questioned what Maumee would have to gain, given Maumee's support for the development of the proposed Shops at Fallen Timbers.

"They're potentially in conflict," Mr. Ludeman said. "I understand he's throwing out ideas and trying to be different."

Incumbent Democratic Mayor Jack Ford, in a statement released by Megan Vahey, his campaign manager, said: "Only one strong mayor has brought about regional cooperation, and Jack Ford will continue to do that."

Former Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, also a Democrat, did not respond to a request for comment.

Seven people are running in the Sept. 13 primary for mayor. The top two vote-getters in that election will face off in the general election Nov. 8.

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