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Published: Wednesday, 12/13/2006

Trustees count on coalition to help build clout

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg Township recently approved the renewal of a $200 expenditure Trustee Craig LaHote said was well worth the price.

For that small sum, townships that qualify can join the Coalition of Large Ohio Urban Townships (CLOUT), an Ohio Township Association committee dedicated to discussing issues facing the bigger townships in the state since 1994.

According to Ed Humphrey, the chairman of the coalition, membership is available to townships with a minimum population of 15,000 or an annual budget of at least $3 million.

Perrysburg Township, which has been a member for several years, is listed on the CLOUT Web site as having a population of 14,000 and a budget of almost $14.5 million in 2006.

Sylvania Township (population: 42,638; budget: $8.4 million) and Springfield Township (population: 22,078; budget: $3.6 million) in Lucas County are also coalition members.

Mr. Humphrey, who is also the chairman of the board of trustees in Miami Township in Clermont County, said only 75 of the 1,308 townships in the Ohio Township Association are eligible for CLOUT.

"These are townships with different sets of problems and solutions than the average township in Ohio," Mr. Humphrey said.

"There are development and zoning issues we face that smaller townships simply don't have to deal with. The idea was to get these bigger townships together to share concerns and find solutions to problems," he said.

The coalition had two general membership meetings this year - one in February and one in June - where Mr. Humphrey said such discussions took place.

Mr. Humphrey also said a legislative agenda is set at these meetings, where township representatives decide what legislation to push for with state representatives.

The money collected from the $200 membership fee goes toward a legal fund for help with such legislative issues.

Mr. Humphrey said the committee has had success in the state legislature, citing a decision by the General Assembly to set aside additional monies for larger townships generated by the state's gas tax fund.

Legislative priorities this year included revenue generation, subdivision and building regulations, and traffic and roadchanges.

"Discussing a legislative agenda gives our townships more of a unified voice in the state legislature," Mr. Humphrey said.

Pam Hanley, chairman for the Sylvania Township board of trustees, said the feedback and legislative support received from the coalition are equally important.

"It's very valuable to be able to interface with other entities that face the same challenges as we do and listen to solutions that maybe we haven't thought of yet," Ms. Hanley said. "At the same time, the legislative backing is also very important."

"And for $200, it's worth it," Ms. Hanley added.



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