Monday, Nov 20, 2017
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Politics

Sylvania Township trustee questions rec entities

Records show no problems

The chairman of Sylvania Township’s board of trustees John Jennewine says he still has unanswered questions about how the nonprofit Sylvania Recreation Corporation is related to the public Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District, two months after trustees directed their attorney to obtain financial records from both entities.

SAJRD, a political subdivision governed by a 12-member board, acts as the umbrella organization for SRC, a nonprofit, and Tam-O-Shanter, a for-profit entity.

Trustee chairman John Jennewine contends he had difficulty obtaining financial records from both SAJRD and SRC until the township’s legal counsel, John Borell, stepped in.

VIDEO: Sylvania Township board on Sylvania Recreation Corporation

Mr. Borell said he did not have to file a formal request to receive the records because SAJRD board members turned them over at their attorney’s recommendation.

SAJRD funds its operations with a 0.4-mill property tax levy, last approved by voters in 2012, that makes its records public. Mr. Borell believes most of SRC’s records also are subject to disclosure, but Tam-O-Shanter’s likely are not.

“I have always thought that Sylvania Rec, by and large, would be subject to the public record,” he said. “Not that they’re a public entity, but there are some provisions of the law which allow private entities be subject to the public-records act if they’re doing a public function.”

Mr. Jennewine’s concerns stem from a 2014 deferred-compensation agreement between SRC and its former longtime operations manager, Ken Katafias, that amounts to $400,000 over five years.

Minutes from a 2006 SAJRD board meeting indicate early discussions about such an agreement, and minutes from a 2014 SRC meeting show the nonprofit’s board supported paying Mr. Katafias for “management consultant services.”

“I’ve got concerns over how it went from a deferred compensation agreement to a consulting agreement, and then not having any oversight to make sure that they’re doing things properly,” Mr. Jennewine said.

SAJRD board members in February said the agreement was between Mr. Katafias and the nonprofit SRC — not the public SAJRD — and is funded through program profits, not taxpayer revenue.

Operations Manager Mike McMahon stood by the agreement Tuesday and said both SAJRD and SRC complied with the township’s request for records.

“We’ve opened up our books, we’ve provided him with everything he’s asked for,” Mr. McMahon said. “SAJRD is audited by the state of Ohio every two years, Sylvania Recreation is privately audited every single year, and there are no red flags that have ever arisen.”

Trustee Neal Mahoney, who serves on the SAJRD board, told Mr. Jennewine he’s satisfied with Mr. Borell’s inquiry and asked him to pursue anything further without using township resources.

“If it’s something that you want to do personally I have no problem,” he said. “This is out of our scope of work as a township. We are in charge of fire, police, roads.”

Mr. Jennewine said he likely will continue his investigation independently.

Contact Sarah Elms at: selms@theblade.com or 419-724-6103 or on Twitter @BySarahElms.

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