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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2008

Lucas County pledges $20,000 to LMC

Lucas County commissioners pledged $20,000 to the struggling Labor-Management-Citizens Committee yesterday, hoping to see it through the end of the year.

The LMC, a 60-year-old consortium of labor and management representatives that has served as a mediator in labor disputes, voted to disband itself in May, citing a lack of support from the city of Toledo.

Commissioners authorized a pair of $10,000 donations to the group through separate sources, money from a settlement agreement between the county and OmniSource of Toledo, and from the Lucas County Improvement Corp. The latter is the county's economic development arm.

The first donation is from a $75,000 account for community organizations, which OmniSource has funded to help settle a long-standing dispute between the county and the Toledo company over disposal fees, also known as tipping fees.

The second donation will come from the improvement corporation's budget. Though it is an organization independent of the county commissioners, the improvement corporation has received the bulk of its funding from the county's general fund.

The second donation was proposed by Commissioner Ben Konop, a frequent critic of the organization. Commissioner Pete Gerken, one of its founders and staunchest defenders, also supported the idea.

"I think the value of the Labor-Management Committee is unequaled in economic development," Mr. Konop said while proposing his resolution.

Mr. Gerken, who also is on the improvement corporation's executive board, said it will be able to afford the donation, as other municipalities in the county have helped fund the organization.

Although the LMC was threatened with elimination after the city of Toledo pulled $63,000 in funding, the committee continues to look for donors to continue its existence. Along with $20,000 from the county, the LMC has received about $20,000 from the University of Toledo, as well as $5,000 from the city of Sylvania.

The Toledo City Council reduced its funding from $113,000 to $50,000 for this year, claiming the organization should have more support from surrounding communities.

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