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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

Advocates push for senior-center levy renewal

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Joyce Bettinger makes good use of the exercise bicycle on her visits to the Sylvania Senior Center. Joyce Bettinger makes good use of the exercise bicycle on her visits to the Sylvania Senior Center.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

For Glenn Holmes, the Sylvania Senior Center has provided opportunities to make friends and do new things during retirement. For Joyce Bettinger, it has become a key to staying in shape.

And both find the senior center important enough to attend a Sylvania Township trustees' meeting last week during which each urged seeking the renewal in November of the center's 0.32-mill property levy in Sylvania township and city.

"The senior center does so much for so many people. It would just be a shame if it [the levy renewal] were not passed," says Ms. Bettinger, a White Pine Court resident who plays table tennis there three times a week and uses exercise facilities as well.

"Keep our seniors busy. Give us someplace to go," said Mr. Holmes, who lives on Moffat Drive and and works regularly in the senior center's woodworking shop.

Glenn Holmes praises the value of Sylvania Senior Center. Glenn Holmes praises the value of Sylvania Senior Center.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Voters first approved the senior-center levy 10 years ago as part of a deal that resulted in construction of the 23,000 square-foot, $2.6 million complex at 7060 West Sylvania Ave. The senior center existed before that in the basement of the Burnham Building, Sylvania's former high school.

While the city, township, state, and Area Office on Aging agreed to pick up the tab for the building's construction, local voters had to agree to provide for its on-going operation, said Claire Proctor, director of Sylvania Community Services, which manages the facility.

The five-year levy generates about $300,000 annually and costs the owner of a $100,000 house about $9.80 a year, Ms. Proctor said. Its revenue accounts for about 69 percent of the senior center's income, she said.

Through the course of any given year, she said, about 3,000 people participate in one or more of the senior center's programs, and about 250 are active on a daily basis. Its health, nutrition, transportation, education, and recreation programs keep seniors socialized, alert, healthy, and independent, she said.

"The senior citizens of this community are very fortunate" to have such a facility, Ms. Proctor said.

The center's five-year budget, she said, anticipates 2 percent growth in staff salaries, 10 percent raises in health-care costs, and 3 percent annual increases in other expenses like maintenance, utilities, and transportation. Money is set aside each year for capital maintenance, Ms. Proctor said, such as resurfacing the parking lot, which is scheduled for 2015.

Before joining the unanimous vote to support the levy proposal, trustee John Jennewine asked if the senior center ever solicits private donations toward its programming or identifies which participants live in Sylvania Township or city.

Ms. Proctor said that because the facility's revenue includes federal grants, it cannot restrict who uses the center. But program fees are higher for nonresidents, and marketing efforts are focused on Sylvanians.

The center recently established an endowment using a large bequest, she said, and that will be the foundation for a private-donations campaign that is "still in its infancy."

Sylvania City Council has yet to consider the request for a tax levy renewal.


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