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Published: Thursday, 6/28/2007

Sylvania merger panel is proposed

Voters in the city of Sylvania and Sylvania Township could be asked in November whether they want to form a commission to draw up conditions of a merger of the two political subdivisions.

One Sylvania, a group of community residents interested in further study of a possible merger, yesterday began circulating petitions in an effort to get the issue on the ballot.

Among the first residents to sign petitions were the 10 candidates who, with voter approval, would serve on a merger commission.

Selected by One Sylvania and introduced yesterday at the Sylvania Senior Center, candidates are Rick Jacek, Tom Grubs, Bonita Scheidel, Jim Seney, and Gary Sommer from the city of Sylvania, and Alix Greenblatt, John Jennewine, Alan Robertson, Sam Steinman, and Bruce Wharram from the township.

To get the merger commission issue on the November ballot, at least 1,904 valid signatures are needed - 754 city residents and 1,150 township residents - but One Sylvania plans to obtain double that amount.

Pam Haynam and Mary Himmelein, One Sylvania's co-chairmen, emphasized that residents of the city and township at this point are being asked whether they want to look further at the possibility of combining the two entities.

If voters agree to form the commission, it would study and research questions and issues, and then it would draw up a report outlining conditions for a merger.

That report would be submitted to voters at a later general election, and a merger would occur only if city and township residents agree.

A study by the University of Toledo's Urban Affairs Center, commissioned by the Sylvania Area Community Improvement Corp. and released in February, showed that financial changes as a result of a merger could generate $12 million more a year in income tax revenue and could save residents and businesses nearly $9 million in property taxes a year.

An estimated $5.2 million for additional services could be offset by a municipal income tax, service fees, special assessments, and existing levies.

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