Resolution of the Sylvania Merger Issue Is Good

They say the voters are never wrong, and that is certainly the case with the Sylvania merger issue. In this instance the status quo is pretty good. Both Sylvania governments are currently financially sound and providing similar services to their residents. My motivation in pursuing the merger was to secure lower real estate taxes for everyone in both jurisdictions and a lower earned income tax rate in the entire community.

Much has been made of the fact that a merger would have likely resulted in the imposition of an earned income tax in the unincorporated portions of the township. The fact is that most Township residents already pay an earned income tax where they work. That includes Township residents that work in Toledo, Maumee, Perrysburg, and Oregon. Those individuals would pay no additional income tax. I work in Toledo and pay an income tax to Toledo. I pay no additional income tax to the City of Sylvania because I receive a credit against any Sylvania tax for the tax I pay in Toledo.

Most of the individuals that work in the Township also already pay an earned income tax to a municipality. Residents of Toledo, Maumee, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg and Oregon that work in the Township pay an earned income tax where they live. So a worker in a Township business who lives in Toledo pays a full earned income tax on his earning to the City of Toledo. The advantage of a municipal earned income tax in the Township would have been that Sylvania could capture a portion of that income tax (all of which currently goes to Toledo) to pay for its roads and police, without increasing the tax burden of the worker. In fact, the vast majority of the new earned income tax revenue generated from a merged Sylvania would have come from earned income tax currently being paid by workers in the Township who are paying earned income taxes to the City where they live, including Toledo, Maumee, Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg and Oregon.

Granted, some who live and work in the Township would likely have had their income taxed for the first time by a new merged Sylvania. For most reasonably successful individuals who meet this criteria, that would have resulted in a net tax increase, even taking into account the real estate tax reduction that would have been anticipated. Even though this is a small minority of individuals (estimated by the UT Study to be about 20% of Township residents), I certainly understand why those individuals would not want to pay more in taxes, even if it would result in a more stable funding source for basic government services like police and fire. I will note that I believe that an earned income tax rate of 1% (lower that the 1.5% currently levied in Sylvania) would have yielded sufficient revenue to maintain all the government services currently provided by the City and Township. In other words, I think there was an opportunity to lower the earned income tax rate as well as real estate tax burden.

Funding government services through real estate taxes rather than earned income taxes is not just a defensible position, it is obviously the preferred method for the vast majority of Township residents. As a resident of the incorporated part of the Township I pay real estate taxes to support our shared Fire Department, and City residents will, I am confident, continue to support our excellent Fire Department. I also understand that some prefer the township form of government over the municipal form, and that too is a legitimate view. In the end, the Sylvania community is a great place to live, whether you live in the City or the Township. Having the merger issue resolved for another generation will allow us to focus on the many good things we share and do well together, including schools, parks, fire services, and the Senior Center. That is a good thing.

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Firstly, bigger government is always more expensive. That's because it's more removed from the people whose tax revenue supports it. Being more removed, politicians can simply STEAL the money easier than ever before. Witness how easily the finance industry stole $7000 each from the working adults in America.

Secondly, you could have ALREADY merged your "similar services" yet still have retained separate governance. Why didn't you do that, Doug? Answer: Because you want a larger government to give yourself more power, hence access to more tax money, which (as I clearly said before) POLITICIANS LOVE TO STEAL FROM US.

Your self-serving, big-government claptrap is a bunch of crap. I'm left to wonder what vengeance you'll take upon the voters, since the elite always take revenge upon the commoners when their desires are crossed.

Doug Haynam is all about power, he would probably sell his own mother if he could benefit from it. Once again your plan is foiled Douggie boy, looks like it'll be another 4 long years before you can attempt another takeover and I have no doubt you will try. I wonder if you will live through another re-election since you were the bottom of the barrel last time and would have been ousted if the voters were given more choices. 5th out of 5,. not too good.......

Hopefully there will be #6 next time around!
And as someone who does live and work in the township I will happily keep my 1%.

My heartfelt thanks to GZ and Jimmy.

I am unable to tell Doug Haynam what I think of him without resorting to vulgarities and truly sulfurous profanity.

Doug, you and your wife Pam are truly despicable individuals.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Well, I found three of my biggest fans.

Anonymity breeds courage, and these comments prove the point. The fact is I have a solid record of supporting restrained government and lower taxes. I initiated real estate tax rollbacks and income tax reductions in the city of Sylvania from the earliest part of my first term on Sylvania’s City Council and a focus on providing quality basic government services. Had the merger commission been formed, I would have insisted on lower taxes and direct voter control over tax increases as part of any New Sylvania charter. As it has turned out, I’ll continue my efforts to promote efficient cost effective government on Sylvania’s City Council for the remaining three years of my term.

Oh, and my mother is not for sale.

Note that I said:

[Y]ou could have ALREADY merged your "similar services" yet still have retained separate governance. Why didn't you do that, Doug?

You have yet to answer. Until you DO, my answer for you stands.

P.S. I am NOT your fan. I hate prevaricating politicians, who seem to have taken courses in lording their positions over the rest of us. That's exactly what you're doing here. Your bluff, I've called.

Furthermore, anonymity doesn't breed courage here. Twits like you jump on the anonymous angle just to demonize those who respond. The truth is that decades of watching your class of person misallocate funds is what fires our outrage.

Now, get back to us with your plan of sharing services to save money, eh? I mean, you DO do something there in that public office, right?

If you are so committed to tax reductions, why haven't you led the charge to reduce or eliminate the Sylvania income tax? Government should be a zero sum game, not sitting on over $30 million of taxpayer money. But since it comes from non-citizens, I guess it doesn't matter, right?

Hey can you check with your buddies at OneSylvania and ask when they will give back the $10,000 of taxpayer money from SCIC? You know, that same $10,000 that the Ohio Attorney General said was illegally given? What was done with that money? Allegedly it was spent or "committed", but I never saw a sign, ad, or mailer. Where did the 10 grand go?

I'm so glad a big government RINO got what he was due. How long before you bring the first forced annexation to council?

Anonymity breeds courage, and these comments prove the point.

What I wrote here I'll be glad to say to you anywhere, anytime at all, in front of anyone. The common trait of the Sylvania City Council is moral turpitude. You are the poster child.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

... do look at consolidating and working together on stuff all the time. Most recently, we looked at consolidating our dispatch services but the end result was that it would not save any money and which ever entity stopped doing it directly, that equipment/facilities would still have to maintained in case we stopped combining services, so there was no benefit.

We buy road salt together, we work on joint road projects together, we discuss speed limits and speed humps on roads, we're looking at master plans for Monroe, Alexis, and a few other streets were jurisdictions abut so zoning is more comprehensive. We do a lot together, but we are still separate. And apparently the township likes it that way.

As I said when this whole thing got started - I hope when it is over that we can move beyond what could be a divisive issue and get back to being one community with two different governments. I think we can do that.

Something here doesn't make sense, or is loaded up with an assumption that's incorrect.

If you combine services you pare the fat. PERIOD. Maintaining separate facilities is not COMBINING. When corporations merge, they get rid of the duplicate facilities and personnel. Why can't the "Two Sylvanias" do the same?

The point I'm trying to make is that the department-merger didn't save money since it was not actually a merger. Merge, get rid of the excess -- yes, LAY OFF government workers, SELL OFF government property, heavens! -- and you CAN'T FAIL to achieve savings.

This "empire building" on the part of petty officials is utterly REVOLTING. You are OUR EMPLOYEES. You will follow OUR DIRECTIVES. You aren't there to build your own fief and to manage your own villeins.

... why don't you ask for details instead of accusing me of building my own fiefdom at the expense of the taxpayers.

Our personnel costs for dispatch is about $800,000 a year. This does not include other overhead of having the facilities in our police department, the communication equipment, building maintenance, etc., just the direct cost of employees.

The cost that the City of Sylvania was going to charge us for doing our dispatching was about $800,000 ... and that was with only hiring half of our dispatcher (after we laid everyone off). We can not 'sell-off' the dispatch room, though I suppose selling the equipment would bring in a small amount of revenue (one time); we would still have to maintain the building it is in because it houses the rest of the police department.

I suspect the problem in this case was we were calculating our savings based on marginal savings - only what direct expenses we could cease (personnel) while ignoring the dispatch-related expenses that we will continue (building maintenance), while the city of Sylvania probably did more of a full-cost accounting for running a department to figure out what to charge us. Certainly, I don't disagree with full-cost accounting because it is a more accurate way to truly reflect the cost of operations, but in this case it created a situation where there were no savings even though the proposal contemplated 6 less employees than what the two entities have combined.

So the situation as it was considered failed to achieve any savings.

Are you seriously accusing me of refusing to layoff government employees?

Now I can see much more clearly why the independent citizen hates politicians.

All you're doing is defending your indefensible position, and setting yourself up as a "straw man", which you then cry victim about.

I fucking SAID that there was something here that doesn't make sense, or is loaded up with an assumption that's incorrect.

Merging departments between governments doesn't mean that you meekly propose it to the other government and then with equal meekness accept some horseshit "charge" that by some magical coincidence is the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY that you were already spending. Any corporate merger executive would be howling in laughter over what you're describing. In the REAL world of REAL economics where people are actually RESPONSIBLE for spending, YOU should have venomously rejected what the CoS told you and forced them to open their books to PROVE the marginal costs of added dispatching.

YOU DIDN'T REALLY TRY, Liedel, or whomever you are. Your governments are actually COLLUDING to make your expenses seem uncuttable, which -- taa daa! -- quite by plan results in your proposal to MERGE THE GOVERNMENTS ENTIRELY. This is an old trick. We're wise to it.

I mean, how stupid do you think we really are? You're pulling this wool over my eyes, plain as day, and Haynam-the-Lackwit is playing the game that using his name (but avoiding answering questions) is somehow "courage".

The truth is that REAL MERGING OF OPERATIONS CANNOT HELP BUT ACHIEVE SAVINGS. This is an economic truth since time immemorial. So, get back to REAL work, Liedel, or whomever you are. Your job is to save us money. Do it or we'll find somebody who will.

... 'force' the City of Sylvania to do something. Not.

"forced them to open their books to PROVE the marginal costs of added dispatching."

Even if they showed us, point for point, their calculation, that doesn't do any good. We can't make them charge us less. Period. Their residents could; city council could. But the township can't. And I did mention the issue with several city council members. Their response was that was the mayor's deal, they knew nothing about it. So what am I supposed to do? I'm not a city resident.

Yes, in the corporate world it is a bit different. But we're not corporate, we have no power over the city and can't force them to do squat. Perhaps you should be railing at them, and not me.

Your governments are actually COLLUDING to make your expenses seem uncuttable, which -- taa daa! -- quite by plan results in your proposal to MERGE THE GOVERNMENTS ENTIRELY.

Have you been following the merger issue at all? I have been vehemently opposed to the merger this entire time. I am not colluding with the city to make it look like we can't cut expenses. We cut expenses where we can by improving processes and prioritizing services, and in fact have worked hard to negotiate union contracts that make our departments more efficient. I've also cut taxes for township residents.

If you want to try to talk sense in to the city about the dispatch, have at it, because we already have and they won't budge. I've done the work on our end, including discussing the reality that this would mean laying off 12 employees and the resultant political back-lash that would cause, but I was ready to deal with it.

Have you been following the merger issue at all? I have been vehemently opposed to the merger this entire time.

That is not entirely accurate. All three Sylvania Township trustees were very non-committal and officially indecisive when the study by Toledo University was announced.

When the results of that study were presented in a public meeting the authors issued a standard disclaimer that denied any and all responsibility for the results and emphasized that the results of the study were based on pure guess work, as the data required was not available. This disclaimer was repeated several times when supposed property tax savings were covered. None of you three stood up during that meeting and decried the merger, or asked the Sylvania City council how they could proceed with merger plans when the study results were declared inconclusive by the author of the study. When there was an outcry among Township residents you started doing what the three of you should have been doing months ago: organizing resistance to the merger.

I attended that public meeting when the results of the study were presented, and reporters from The Blade were there covering the story. All three of you trustees could have made a strong public statement then and gotten free publicity, but you three did not. I remember Ed Emery standing up during the meeting and asking for an informal poll of the audience as to who was in favor of the merger and who was not. Ed was shouted down by whom ever was at the podium, saying that was premature, that "We don't want to do that now".

You bet your last dollar they didn't want an informal poll.

I also have it on good authority that Pamela Hanley was in favor of the merger. Carol Contrada made it clear she could be talked into merging. Deidre Liedel was the only trustee who was at least non-committal.

I'd like to know when the ten grand is going to be returned to the SCIC. Were I a trustee, I'd start filing suite.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

That is not entirely accurate.

It is accurate. I have voiced my opposition to a merger both publicly and privately for the almost 3 years I have been a trustee. I raised questions about the increase in taxes, I raised questions about the increased infrastructure costs, I raised questions about the loss of the township way of life. I was the township representative on the UAC study, and I disagreed with it all the way, I voiced my concerns about methodology, I questioned the scope of the study, and I proposed that the township conduct it's own study. I was at every meeting held to make sure their enthusiasm had some sort of check on it. Just think how bad it would have been if I hadn't been there.

You want to know the problem? Only those who were in favor of the study showed up at township meetings and shouted Pam and I down when we tried to look at options for the township to take. The 'silent majority' didn't get active and involved until after it was already on the ballot, when the threat was eminent.

For months, people asked me what to do about the merger group and I told them - put together a group to oppose it, a small informal group can get a lot done. Earlier in this process (during the petition stage) no one stepped up to do it. Sorry I couldn't but I was busy trying to figure out how to fund our fire department, dealing with contentious union negotiations, and a host of other issues at the township and let's not forget my career and family and all the other community commitments I have on behalf of the township. Sorry I didn't devote as much time to this as you thought I should.

When the petitions were filed, things got a little more serious, and I responded accordingly including meeting with small groups of residents to get opposition organized. My involvement was limited because of the sunshine laws - I was told that the merger issue was township business and any information in my hands was public record. While campaigning, I prefer to not let my opposition know what I am going to do, so I purposefully kept my involvement to telephone or in-person conversations. No documents were shown to me until late in the campaign, so as to purposefully (and legally) keep it out of the public record.

I also have it on good authority that Pamela Hanley was in favor of the merger.

Tell your 'good authority' they are wrong.

Finally, with regard to the SCIC money to OneSylvania, SCIC is supposed to receive $6,700 back because the donation was a matching donation - OneSylvania was supposed to raise $10,000 from other sources to get all of the donation, and OneSylvania had trouble raising money apparently. As for suing SCIC - believe it or not, we're not sure the township has standing as a taxpayer to file suit. And how do we force the SCIC to get money back from an entity that has no fundraising capability after the merger issue lost? I'm not sure its a proper use of township resources (i.e., $$$) to sue over $3,300 when we know the money is gone.

Now, determining if the township should continue to be a part of the SCIC, an entity that apparently has no qualms about spending money when they don't have the authority ... that's another issue to be addressed as we go through our budget.

Bottom line IMO is that even if township people would have organized earlier, OneSylvania still would have gone through the process. I talked to several on the committee, and no one seemed to want to acknowledge the concerns of township residents - increased taxes, increased regulation, bigger government and loss of the township way of life. Most of the people pushing this (the city residents) didn't have those things to lose, so they didn't understand it and the concerns didn't stop them. They had to hear it from the voters (and even then I don't think it sunk in for some of the merger proponents.)

Then you're hooked on the opposite point: You cannot conduct the merger at all. A merger happens between equals, and you don't see yourselves as being equal with the City.

You also can't negotiate from a position of weakness. Any merger proposal is a negotiation. Your deals are dead before they can even be discussed.

I am SO glad that this merger bullshit died on the ballot. Finally, the people saw through your smokescreens and saw that smaller government is in their best interest, since at least they have more control.

This issue is concluded. Obviously you're not going to do anything more about it since the City is arrogant and uncooperative. Good for you! Now let's never hear "merger" from your mouth again until the City stops being so authoritarian. 8^D

On the substative comments:
1) Services -- DeeDee adressed these pretty well. We do cooperate on providing services where separate governments can. There are other tasks which need to be done separately by separate government entities. Any specific proposals for greater cooperation and shared services are welcome. But there are many things we do together.
2) Income Tax Reductions -- I proposed a reduction in the City Income Tax in 2004 (my first year in office) and introduced actual legislation in 2005. Those efforts were rejected by City Council (in fact I couldn't get a second for my motion) and the Mayor. In 2006 I introduced the Tax Holiday legislation that ultimately has led to a rollback in the property taxes in the City. I intended to pursue income tax rate reduction before the merger commission had it been formed. Remember, I'm only one of a seven member Council, and I have no staff or Administration (like the mayor does).
3) Annexation -- To the extent that non-City residents want City services, I will continue to support requiring annexation as a condition of receiving City Services. I believe it is only fair and equitable to the existing City residents that City Services not be provided to those who live outside the City and who do not pay a full share cost for those services. I don't think it would be fair to current City Residents to pick up trash, plow roads, or provide water service to non-City residents. Any Township property owner who wants the City's services, is welcome to petition the City to annex his or her property into the City. That's the choice of the individual property owner.

... that anyone in the township has asked the city to plow their roads or pick up their trash. Now water ... that's a different issue. But what kind of confuses me in your response is about not paying a full share cost of the services with regard to specifically the water.

It is my understanding that revenue from water systems are self-sustaining and that excess revenue can not go in to the general fund of a government (this is a general understanding, not specific to Sylvania's water system). So, if township residents pay for the water they receive from the City's water system, that money goes to help make the system self-sustaining but can not be funneled in to the city's general fund. So how could a township resident who is getting city water not be paying their full share of the cost?

If a township resident wants the city's trash pickup, road plowing, recycling, or police service, they should pay for it. But I'm not following the logic on saying those who receive city water service do not pay for it when they pay their water bill. Maybe I'm missing something on how the water department is funded.

3) Annexation -- To the extent that non-City residents want City services, I will continue to support requiring annexation as a condition of receiving City Services.

Meaning that you and the rest of the city government will hold individuals hostage to drinking water - which is morally reprehensible.

One thing Dee didn't mention about the dispatch service is that if dispatch services were joined, the city of Sylvania would control those services. Sylvania Township would be giving up control of our dispatch service, and given the 'cooperation' the Township is getting from the City, even the thought of allowing the city government control of anything that affects our way of life in the Township should not just be discarded, but it should be discarded like the smallpox contaminated blankets the US government gave the Indians.

Check out the ordinances in the city on http://www.cityofsylvania.com/Ordinances/index.htm and you'll find a long list of repressive, draconian laws that people don't want, don't need and are unwilling to live with. Interact with the two police departments sometime, and you'll find a world of difference between the city's jack booted thugs in uniform and the peace officers in Sylvania Township. In fact, you really don't need to interact with city police at all. Just take the recent merger attitude, dress it up in a blue uniform and give it a gun and a badge. Voila! Sylvania city police.

I'm against combining any services with the city. I'm willing to pay more to live in the township, and by the look of it so are a lot of other people.

Now, if the township trustees really want to stop annexation by the city, the three of you can begin by slamming the door shut on new development until you can find a way to successfully fight off this annexation by denial of water condition.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Madjack - the issue really is new development in the city's water district, which goes beyond the city's borders but does not cover all of the township; I'm not sure who or when this water district was created, or if anyone in the township had input. Quite honestly, there is very little of the city's water district that is not already developed (and very little development going on right now given the economy). But there are several neighborhoods that were developed years ago where the developer signed an annexation waiver to get the water. For the rest of the undeveloped township, I believe a majority of it is serviced or service-able by the county water lines and hence not vulnerable to forced annexation.

DeeDee - this might sound like a silly question, but if you live Sylvania Township how do you know if you are part of the area that is serviced or service-able by county water lines?

Say hypothetically that a random Swampbubbler might live somewhere in the proximity of Mitchaw? (Hypothetically, of course.) ;)

... at the township that shows the water district. I don't believe it extends out to Mitchaw because the township spent $1 million plus years ago to extend a county water line out to Sunrise Retirement Village on Syl-Met in order to avoid forced annexation.

For those who already have water and wonder: if you get a Toledo water bill, you have county water lines; if you get a Sylvania water bill, you are in their water district and at some point someone signed an annexation waiver on your property.

Thanks...that clears it up. I do get a water bill from Toledo.

(A very high water bill, but that's a whole other story. My parents were shocked that my water bill was 3 times the one they receive in their community for approximately the same volume of water usage. Yikes!)

What I'd really like to see on line is a map of Sylvania Township borders along with overlays for city borders, zoning and city's water district.

I can't understand how the Township would not have had any input into something that was built outside the city and inside the township.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Our website does not currently have the capacity to load maps, but that is something that was brought to our attention at a strategic planning meeting we had last month and we're going to be working. Zoning, flood plane, and similar maps were mentioned, but I can see posting the water and sewer district maps as well. For anyone who wants to see them, contact the township office or me directly and it can be arranged. They are public documents.

As far as no input into the city's water district - I honestly don't know, I'm just assuming there was none. The water district was created decades ago, and at that point the issue was getting water to some parts of the township. I don't think anyone really foresaw ... let me rephrase that ... people in the township did not foresee the situation property owners were placed in because of it. I believe the water district was something that was put together between the city and Lucas County, as opposed to Lucas County being responsible for the water system in the city.

Mind you, township have been historically limited in power; I don't even know if back then we could have had our own water district (although the township has one now that was created 10 years ago).

addresses the issue at hand which is Doug Haynam is a self serving, power hungry asshole who will fail in his bid for re-election if anyone will run against him. I suspect there is someone out there who will.

To complete the record here, I was re-elected in November and am looking forward to another four years on Sylvania City Council. I continue to fight for lower taxes and reduced spending that is in line with the revenues that the city has, but I'm frequently out-voted. And Jimmy D remains an anonymous coward.

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