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Published: Wednesday, 10/5/2005

Sylvania: 5 candidates running for 3 seats

BY MIKE JONES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

There are five candidates, including three incumbents, running for three seats on Sylvania City Council, while Mayor Craig Stough is running unopposed.

Read Backus, the dean of council with 34 years, said he is seeking re-election to continue what he said has been orderly growth in the city over the years.

Dr. Backus, a dentist, said he is pleased with the how the city watches funds, which, in part, has allowed for a program to improve city streets without applying a special tax assessment to the property owners.

The city has not had an increase in its income tax rate for more than 35 years.

Another candidate, David Berland, 41, self-employed in marketing, said his interest in running for council was prompted in part by his service on the fire facilities review committee.

While working with both the city and Sylvania Township, he said he became more aware of the "city and township relationship, or lack thereof."

Mr. Berland said one of his priorities would be to have the entities work more closely.

He questioned the $30 million which the city has and said that the funds might be put to a more effective use than drawing interest.

Some of the money could be used for redevelopment of some areas of the city, "which could pay dividends."

Another candidate, Mark Bula, 38, self-employed in marketing, said his view of the city's surplus is that it calls for a rate cut in the municipal tax.

He said the city's "reserves belong to the taxpayers and not elected officials." Mr. Bula called for an examination of the city's tax code.

He added that in knocking on doors in the city, one of the complaints he has heard most concerns the conflicts between city and township officials.

Mr. Bula said he would strive to have a more cooperative relationship between the governments.

Todd Milner is seeking re-election to council and said he has enjoyed his first four-year term.

He pointed to the city's street repair program as an example of how council, "is doing good things for Sylvania."

Mr. Milner, a sales representative for a casket company, also noted that the fledgling Fire Advisory Board, with members from both the city and the township, could grow into a model of how the two governments can work more closely.

He said that although the board is limited to an examination of the operations of the fire department, if it results in a successful collaboration, the model may be used for other township and city operations.

Barbara Sears, president of council, is seeking re-election and said that the tax structure should be looked at with an eye, among other things, to achieving parity among taxpayers.

She noted that taxes paid to Sylvania come from a minority of its residents because those who work outside the city pay taxes where they are employed.

Ms. Sears, a principal in Noble & Sears, said all of the mechanisms of taxation should be looked at to determine if it is the most beneficial possible to the city and the most equitable possible to its citizens.

She acknowledged that there is friction between the city and township, but said she thinks it has improved recently.

Just the fact that the Fire Advisory Board exists is an example of a sense of cooperation, she said.

Ottawa Hills

Four incumbent village council members are unopposed for their seats. They are: Rex Decker, Jeffrey Gibbs, Robert Reichert and John Straub.

Holland

Four incumbent village council members are running unopposed for their seats. They are: Lee Irons, Dale Prentice, Noah Stone and Mary Visco.



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