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Published: Wednesday, 3/10/2010

Sylvania Township budget again aids 3 nonprofit groups


Two Sylvania social-service agencies and the Sylvania Community Arts Commission are back in Sylvania Township's budget after a four-year absence, but at levels lower than they requested last month.

A divided township board of trustees approved $10,000 for Sylvania Family Services, $3,000 for the Sylvania Community Action Team, and $2,000 for the arts commission last week.

Current economic times “are particularly challenging to a growing percentage of our own residents,” Carol Contrada, the trustees' chairman, said in recommending the $10,000 for Sylvania Family Services to her colleagues.

She added that the agency was “homegrown” and the township was a founding partner when it was created.

But the previous board of trustees had voted in 2006 to drop funding for both the local agencies and the United Way on the grounds that the township should not spend tax funds on charities.

John Jennewine, newly elected to the board in November, made that case as well last week.

“I don't believe the government needs to go out and tell people we're going to donate their tax dollars to these charities,” Mr. Jennewine said between casting votes against appropriations for the community action and Sylvania Family Services.

“It is entirely appropriate for a government to provide a safety net for those who need it,” Mrs. Contrada responded. “It's part of being a civilized society. Churches can't do it all.”

Although the family services agency had requested $40,000 from the township and the community action agency $19,500, their leaders said they were pleased with what they got.

“We've gotten nothing for the last four years. I feel good that they are able to get us something,” said Deb Chaney, executive director of the community action team, which runs youth substance-abuse education, prevention, and community awareness programs.

“It's a step in the right direction for sure,” said Jason Robertson, Sylvania Family Services' executive director. “We're excited.”

Mrs. Contrada said that even a nominal level of public supportwould enhance the agencies' ability to obtain grants from other sources — a statement Ms. Chaney echoed.

“It's important to demonstrate that during grant writing, especially when you're doing federal grants,” she said, describing the response without such support as, “If your community is not willing to invest in you, then why should we?”

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