On Monday night, members of Sylvania City Council pledged their endorsement of three levieson the November ballot.
Before the meeting, council members hadendorsed only one levy issue,forrenewal of the Imagination Station levy.
During its meeting, councilendorsed three levies: for the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Toledo Area Metroparks, and the Sylvania Area Joint Recreation District, commonly called SAJRD. Representatives for all three respective organizations attended the meeting and were given the opportunity to present why the levies needed council's endorsement.
Sue Schafer, manager of the Sylvania Branch Library, represented the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, which is asking for a 2.9-mill levy.
“We get 50 percent of our funding from the state. We're actually operating at 1996 levels. The other half of our budget does come from property tax. If the levy does pass, the Sylvania Branch will get Sunday hours back again,” Ms. Schafer said.
She said other benefits of the passage of the levy include more materials and additional services. But if the levy doesn't pass, there could be dire consequences, she said.
“If it doesn't pass, our funding will be slashed and some of the branches will close and we won't be able to operate at the level we are now,” she said. The Sylvania Branch is the busiest branch in the system.
“I really believe that the library is a valuable community resource,” Ms. Schafer said. “We also help people fill out job applications quite a bit.”
The current Toledo-Lucas County Public Library levy is due to expire this year. If passed, the levy will cover the system until 2017. According to the library's Web site, "passage would cost the owner of a $100,000 home less than 25 cents per day” in taxes.
Before the endorsement vote, council member Doug Haynam expressed his views on why council shouldn't endorse levies.
“I really don't think it's appropriate for this body to be endorsing these levies. We haven't researched these,” he said. “I am uncomfortable in this world, telling people how to vote on these things. I'm going to vote against this endorsement, but I'm not suggesting that anyone should vote no on the levy.”
Mr. Haynam said he knows “the good things the library does,” but he didn't think council members had any “special, unique knowledge” about the levies that would give them the reasoning to support them. In a 6-1 vote, council endorsed the library's levy. Mr. Haynam voted no.
The other two representatives and organizations were equally as successful obtaining endorsements from council.
Steve Madewell, executive director of Toledo Area Metroparks, cited past successful projects the system has worked on with the City of Sylvania, including the restoration of the historical Lathrop House. The Metroparksis asking for a 0.9-mill levy. Mr. Madewell said the levy will “enable us to continue our land preservation” and “enable us to keep the park system whole for the future.”
He stressedplanning as part of his reasoning why he encouraged endorsement.
“We need to think in terms of managing our park system for the future. We're on track right now for about three million visitors this year. It will enable us to continue the programs we're doing.”
If it is passed, the levy would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $27 annually, Mr. Madewell said. It would also generate about $7 million per year for 10 years. Council member Mark Luetke abstained from voting, citing a conflict of interest. In a 5-1 vote, with Mr. Haynam once again voting against, the endorsement passed.
For issue 22,a 0.4-mill levy operating levy for SAJRD, operations manager Ken Katafias said it was rare for the district to go out and ask voters for money. He said the district has taken on more responsibilities in recent years, which supports the need for funding. As a continuing operating levy, it is expected to cost homeowners “$1 per month for each $100,000 in valuation.” Using $160,000 as the price point for the average Sylvania House, SAJRD has calculated that it will cost an owner of that value of home about $19 additional per year.
Mayor Craig Stough praised the work of the district.
“There aren't other rec districts like Sylvania's...This makes Sylvania's quality of life higher than our neighbors,” he said.
The endorsement carried, passing by a unanimous vote from council.
But while council was kind with its endorsements, because of the increase in requests this year, Councilman Luetke suggested creating a levy endorsement policy.
“I don't want to over-engineer this matter. I just think council will be well-served in this process,” he said. The matter has been referred to council's community relations committee meeting.
Contact Kelly McLendon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-206-0356 or on Twitter at @MyTownSylvania.