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Published: Tuesday, 2/6/2007

Study finds tax benefits if 2 areas consolidate

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Residents and businesses could save nearly $9 million in property taxes a year if Sylvania and Sylvania Township merge, with a lot of new revenue coming from extending the city s 1.5 percent income tax to the township including a large number of workers who live outside of it.

A consolidation of the two municipalities has been contemplated for years. But a report released yesterday by the University of Toledo s Urban Affairs Center gave hard figures on the potential financial benefits of such a merger.

Income taxes, not property taxes, could become the primary source of revenue, according to the study. It was commissioned by the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corp. and is to be discussed at a 7 p.m. meeting tomorrow at the Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 Sylvania Ave.

Consolidating the city and township could generate an additional $12 million a year in income tax revenue from the current township, largely through income taxes that would be imposed on nonresidents.

Roughly 80 percent of people who work in the township live outside the city and the township, the report said.

Under the study scenario, township property owners could save more than $8 million in property taxes, while city property owners could save more than $700,000 in property taxes.

Saving upward of $8 million in property taxes has got to be a good starting point for discussions, Sylvania Councilman Mark Luetke said.

Sylvania Township Trustee DeeDee Liedel said a merger commission would decide what the financial impact would be if the two entities combined.

The study, she said, is a possible scenario, but it is not a guideline that the merger commission would have to comply by.

It s possible, she said, that a township resident could pay more in taxes under the study s scenario.

Assuming a 1.5 percent income tax, a resident who earns $70,000 and lives in a home valued at $200,000 would pay $1,000 a year in income tax and would save $491 in property taxes, she said.

Expenses for a merged community would increase, such as for street construction, engineering services, capital improvements, refuse collection, and income tax administration, the study predicted.

Costs for additional services, estimated at $5.2 million, would be offset by revenues from the municipal income tax; service fees; special assessments, and existing levies, the study said.

The study provides information that leaders and residents in the city and township can use as the basis for determining whether, and if so how, to proceed with a proposed merger.

Contact Janet Romaker at:jromaker@theblade.com or419-724-6006.



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