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Published: Thursday, 12/4/2008

Gerken calls for delay in decision on transfer fee

Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken wants to delay a vote on a proposed increase in the county's real estate conveyance fee until Dec. 16 because he says he wants more time to review how the extra money would be used.

Mr. Gerken said he wants the Lucas County Improvement Corp., the county's economic development agency, and the Toledo-Lucas County Housing Trust Fund to submit proposals about how they would spend the expected $800,000 revenue generated by the increase.

On Tuesday, the commissioners held the second of two public hearings on whether to raise the fee from $3 to $4 for every $1,000 of real estate transferred. The hearings were required by Ohio law before increasing the fee.

While Mr. Gerken has proposed that the increase fund the corporation - a recommendation from a report issued by former University of Toledo President Dan Johnson - some community advocates have urged the commissioners to put any increase toward the trust.

Mr. Gerken said he wanted to see budgets from both organizations by Dec. 12.

"The Housing Trust Fund has raised the issue that they think they could spend it more effectively than the LCIC," Mr. Gerken said. "I'm giving them a chance to explain."

Officials from both organizations said they would be able to submit budgets to the county before the deadline.

Commissioner Ben Konop said he still was opposed to increasing the fee - which he has dubbed the "Gerken tax" - whether for the LCIC or for the Housing Trust Fund.

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