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Published: Wednesday, 2/22/2006

Sylvania, Sylvania Township: Merger discussion returns to agency

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Talks about a merger between Sylvania and Sylvania Township are moving into another arena.

The Sylvania Community Improvement Corporation, which originally sponsored a report released last year that suggested there be more discussion about merging government services, has the issue back in its court.

Frank Kozak, president of the organization, said the key benefit of using the CIC as the group to move the study is that it is a "nonpartisan neutral entity.''

Consideration of the idea has been under way by a city council committee headed by Mark Luetke.

Mr. Luetke said at a recent meeting that the CIC would be seen as an "honest broker'' in the process and agreed that it is important that the issue not appear to be clouded by parochial political interests.

Dee Dee Liedel, a township trustee who is a representative on the committee studying a merger said, "It's got to be brought out of the city" if a resulting report will have credibility.

Mr. Luetke and Ms. Liedel will meet with members of the CIC to specify what will be expected from the effort.

Tom Grub, a former president of the CIC, said the organization isn't to be used as a professional consultant, but is there to help keep discussions moving and lead toward answers to questions raised by the first report.

A central question that is so far unanswered is what a merger might cost individual residents.

The principal income of the township comes from tax levies on real estate and the main source of income for the city is its municipal income tax.

It's a key question, and its answer likely will drive the outcome of the discussion.

Voters must first approve establishing a merger commission and next vote on whether to merge.

In addition to taxation issues, however, is a need to determine an overall scheme of government and those discussions haven't begun.

When the initial study was released last April, most officials said the idea of a merger deserved further study, but township trustees made no formal moves and the city also was quiet until Mr. Luetke took that matter into his committee.

After that committee began its work, trustees sent a representative, originally Carol Contrada, to be part of the discussion.



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