Thursday, Dec 14, 2017
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Politics

Sylvania Township rec funding again at issue

Trustee revives questions about public, private dollars

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    The Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District operates two ice sheets at Tam-O-Shanter.

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    Katafias.

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Emotions ran high at a Sylvania Township meeting Tuesday as trustees and township residents discussed two hot-button community issues: public dollars and noisy neighbors.

Trustee chairman John Jennewine for the third time this year called into question the financial reporting and auditing practices of the Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District and Sylvania Recreation Corp. because of concerns about the mixing of taxpayer and private funds.

“I’m trying to understand what fiduciary responsibility does our representative that sits on this board, and SAJRD, and also the three representatives that we appoint, what fiduciary responsibility do they have to tell us, the citizens of this community, whether these organizations are compliant,” he said.

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. SAJRD funds its operations with a 0.4-mill property tax levy, which voters approved in 2012.

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

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.

The state Attorney General’s Office this month requested documents from SRC including fiscal and conflict of interest policies, a list of bank accounts, records of alcohol sales at Centennial Terrace and Tam-O-Shanter, and documents relating to “the employment and retirement of Kenneth Katafias,” a letter from the office shows.

Mr. Jennewine and trustee Neal Mahoney, who serves on the SAJRD board, talked in circles for about half an hour Tuesday, often talking over each other. Mr. Mahoney accused Mr. Jennewine of being on a “witch hunt” and told him he was embarrassing himself by bringing up his complaints.

“I’m putting you on notice. Now you’re involved as a board member, and if there is fiduciary responsibility, that could come back,” Mr. Jennewine said.

“I’m willing to stand behind whatever we find out from the attorney general,” Mr. Mahoney said.

SRC has until May 26 to respond to the attorney general’s request.

In other business, trustees opted to no longer issue noise exemptions for a property owner who rides motorbikes on Heysler Road after about a dozen residents of the neighboring Kings Hollow neighborhood complained the noise is a nuisance.

Township Police Chief Rob Boehme said the neighborhood dispute has been ongoing. He had hoped mediation would solve the issue, but said the property owner took his latest granted noise exemption too far when he rode the loud bikes on Mother’s Day.

“I think they abused what we tried to work out,” Chief Boehme said.

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

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