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Published: Monday, 8/11/2008

Toledo, Sylvania leaders reach water deal

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The city of Toledo will sell water to Sylvania residents at a cheaper rate in exchange for a share of income tax for all new development at Flower Hospital, the mayor s of both cities announced Monday.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner said the agreement would bolster the city s tax revenue.

"A regional approach to encouraging growth is essential if all parties are to profit," Mr. Finkbeiner said. "We are making an effort to facilitate this growth by using our resources and expertise to keep and attract new businesses wherever they wish to locate in our region."

Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough said he was pleased with the arrangement, which will cut the surcharge on water sales from 125 percent to 75 percent.

Toledo council voted last year to increase the surcharge on water sales to communities with no water contract from 100 percent to 125 percent, with automatic 5 percent increases each year thereafter until a contract is signed.

Sylvania was the largest community in that category.

Sylvania owns an easement through Monroe County from Lake Erie for a water line. Mr. Stough said the city could opt to build a new water system for $40 million to $60 million, which he said is too expensive.

Slyvania s contract for water with Toledo expired in 1995 and has since then purchased water without a contract.

In 2004, then-Mayor Jack Ford announced that Toledo and Sylvania were close to agreement on a water contract. Until 1995, Sylvania was paying Toledo s base rate plus 40 percent, with discounts as volume increased.

Mayor Finkbeiner last week announced construction of a $2.6 million pipeline to carry municipal water to the western Lucas County village of Berkey.

The city will pay the cost and residents of Berkey will be assessed about $15,000 per household over 30 years to pay for the construction, in addition to paying for the water.

Mr. Finkbeiner said the city gains customers and tax-sharing revenue from any new businesses that locate in Berkey, should the village implement an income tax. Berkey must also limit residential development with the use of Toledo water, as specified in an approved Berkey land-use plan.

In 2006, Toledo City Council approved an agreement for water sales to the unincorporated parts of Lucas County, if township residents want to pay for it, including Berkey. The deal allows Toledo to sell water to rural western townships if they adopt policies that restrict growth and agree to share any resulting tax benefits with the city.



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