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Published: Tuesday, 10/12/2010

Sylvanians hear arguments for senior center, school levies, candidates at forum

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sylvania Superintendent Brad Rieger, left, speaks about the upcoming school levy. Claire Proctor, executive director of Sylvania Community Services, speaks in favor of the senior center levy. Sylvania Superintendent Brad Rieger, left, speaks about the upcoming school levy. Claire Proctor, executive director of Sylvania Community Services, speaks in favor of the senior center levy.
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Officials made their case for passage of levy requests for the Sylvania schools and the Sylvania Senior Center at a public affairs forum last week that also featured a state representative running for re-election and candidates for the Lucas County Board of Commissioners.

The 90-minute forum, at the senior center, was moderated by Lourdes College President Bob Helmer, who asked the questions and instructed the participants in political races not to mention their opponents.

Representing the school district was Superintendent Brad Rieger, who said adoption of the 4.9-mill continuing operating levy was vital to the preservation of the school system's programs and services.

When asked by Mr. Helmer why someone with children in private schools should vote for the levy, the superintendent replied that the school system is the pride of the community and benefits everyone whether they use it or not.

"Property values in Sylvania have dropped 13 percent," he noted, saying quality schools could help stabilize them and attract families and businesses to the Sylvania community.

The levy, if adopted, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $150 annually. The district cut spending by $5 million this year and projects a $9 million deficit next year absent new revenue.

Even with passage of the levy, the district will have to trim costs by $2 million more.

The senior center request is for renewal of a 0.32-mill five year levy.

Claire Proctor, executive director of Sylvania Community Services, said the tax accounts for 69 percent of the center's operating budget and costs the owner of a $100,000 home $9.80 a year.

"We are so fortunate to have this facility in Sylvania, she said, speaking of the center that opened in 2002," Ms. Proctor said.

She said the center serves about 3,000 seniors annually and about 250 daily with meals and fitness, health, and wellness programs.

Failure of the renewal request would mean the center would be forced to close after April of next year, Ms. Proctor said.

State Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Monclova), who seeks re-election, said she was the only licensed health insurance agent in the legislature. Her challenger, Maumee Democrat Harry Barlos, did not attend because of the death of his mother. He is a former Maumee mayor, Lucas County commissioner, and Holland administrator.

Ms. Sears said health-care reform will expand the Medicaid program and cost Ohio billions. The changes amounted to a shifting of health care away from the individual and employer to government.

Democrat Carol Contrada, a Sylvania Township trustee, and Republican George Sarantou, a Toledo councilman, are the contenders for the Lucas County commissioner's seat being vacated by Ben Konop, a Democrat.

Both candidates said they had a strong job-creation background and were small businessmen.

Ms. Contrada said Lucas County could regain its competitive edge but needed a leader with experience in balancing budgets. She said that as a trustee she had returned $3 million to taxpayers and increased the township's reserves to $5 million.

Mr. Sarantou said he had been a financial adviser for 28 years and believed "it is high time we had a commissioner with business experience."

Ms. Contrada said she would bring a suburban voice to the board of commissioners, whose three members all live in Toledo.

"We haven't heard that voice in a while," she said.

Mr. Sarantou countered, "It's not where you live that counts. It's what you've done. So I ask you to judge me on my record.

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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