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Published: Thursday, 10/25/2007

Confusion lingers on Sylvania, Sylvania Township fire levies

BY MIKE JONES
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

To many Sylvania city and township residents, the three proposed fire department levies on the Nov. 6 ballot have caused confusion more than anything.

The situation started after trustees, by a 2-1 vote, laid off five firefighters and got rid of an emergency transport unit last year.

A citizens group, Supporters for a Safe Sylvania, gathered enough signatures to put its own 1.5-mill fire levy on the ballot.

About the same time, trustees voted to put a 0.5-mill levy on the ballot for operations and a second levy of 0.5 mill for a bond issue for capital improvements.

Mike Brown of the citizens' group has contended the trustees' action was meant to "muddy the waters."

DeeDee Liedel, chairman of the trustees, contends the board had been studying the need for more funding and determined the two 0.5-mill levy proposals would be sufficient.

If voters approve the larger tax issue, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 house $45.94 for each of the five years it is in effect. The Lucas County auditor's office said the measure would realize about $2.2 million.

Each of the two levies seeking 0.5 mill would cost the same home owner $15.31, and raise about $740,000 annually.

If the trustees' capital improvements levy passes, it will allow the township to issue bonds for $10.56 million to be paid off over 20 years.

Their operating levy, trustees said, will keep services intact.

Ms. Liedel said that recently appointed Fire Chief Fred Welsh is designing a program to recruit and train part-paid firefighters to supplement the career force.

Mr. Brown said money from the 0.5-mill levy won't be enough to sustain operations.

The 1.5-mill levy is for both operations and capital expenditures but, he said, would not be sufficient for improvements necessary at each of the four township fire stations.

Ms. Liedel has said access is problematic at the station on Central Avenue just west of U.S.23/I-475 and, to an extent, at Monroe Street and Whiteford Road.

She said trustees will look for possible relocation sites and ways to improve access if the stations can't economically be relocated.

Mr. Brown said the citizens' effort aims to return the fire department to its previous status.

Mr. Liedel has said trustees have no plans to add to the regular firefighting force.

Mr. Brown said his group would take legal action if the township failed to act appropriately.

He said officials should carry out what the election results indicate the public wants.

The levy brought by the citizens' group must be approved separately by voters in the township and in the city.

Sylvania's City Council recently decided it will not collect revenue from the millage if city voters approve the measure and other township voters turn it down.



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