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Published: Wednesday, 7/2/2008

Over 2,000 sign petitions for One Sylvania ballot issue

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A second petition drive is well underway by a community group aiming to establish a committee to study merging the township and city of Sylvania.

Volunteers and elected officers from the merger commission advocacy group One Sylvania have collected more than 2,000 signatures supporting a November ballot issue, Pam Haynam, the group's co-chairman, said.

The ballot issue would authorize the 10-member merger commission - five from the township and five from the city - to generate a plan to merge the two government bodies. A second public vote would be needed to enact a merger.

The group has collected signatures door-to-door and at community events since narrowly falling short of the number of valid signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot last year. About 360 signatures, of about 2,300 collected, were disallowed by the board of elections.

This time, merger supporters want to be sure they have a comfortable margin of error, Ms. Haynam said.

About 750 signatures are needed from city residents and 1,150 from township residents, she said.

The group has collected all but 50 signatures needed to reach the requirement for township residents, but organizers hope to collect an additional 350, Ms. Haynam said. Among city residents, the group has surpassed the number of signatures needed by about 400, she said.

The board of election's deadline for petitions for the November election is Aug. 21. Supporters of the merger commission effort say a combined government would boost economic development and save township and city residents money.

A merger would generate an additional $12 million in revenue for the community, assuming the city's 1.5 percent income tax was implemented in the township, according to a study by the University of Toledo's Urban Affairs Center.

With the increased revenue, the city could curtail some property taxes, shifting the tax burden from residents to employees who live outside city limits, the report states.

"Most people are already paying income tax to the municipality where they work," Ms. Haynam said. "People who come to work in Sylvania [Township] don't pay income tax."

She added: "We need to capitalize on those dollars."

If the ballot issue is approved, another ballot issue would be needed to enact a merger, or the commissioners could vote not to go forward with the effort.

"It's to look at making our community better," Ms. Haynam said. "It really bares looking at, and we can't look at it until we get it on the ballot."

The petition drive is led by 10 One Sylvania commission candidates and between 30 and 35 volunteers, Ms. Haynam said. The group will be out soliciting signatures at the city's "Star Spangled Celebration" tonight at Centennial Terrace.

The door-to-door efforts will continue, as well, in the coming weeks.

"It's just pounding the pavement and finding registered voters," Richard Jacek, a commission candidate, said.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:

aschmitt@theblade.com

or 419-724-6104.



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