–by Mike Jones

State Audit is Excellent

The findings of a state audit of the finances of Sylvania Township, “is the best we’ve had in my years,” Chief Financial Officer Dave Simko said. Simko, who first took office in 2004, said the state auditor, in its bi-annual inspection of the township books, “issued no findings, no citations,” in its report.

He termed the state’s report, “excellent,” for an entity which sees “$25 million come in and $25 million go out” every year. The finance department, he said, has done a good job for many years, adding that it has been bolstered by the hiring of Scott Smith, CPA, as the director.

Smith had been the chief deputy of the county auditor’s office and finance director for the city of Sylvania prior to being hired by the township on a part-time basis.

Smith said it is uncommon for a state audit to return a report with no issues, particularly with a budget as large and diverse as that of Sylvania Township.

He added that audits by the state rarely actually find money missing. The findings usually have to do with accounting methods that don’t follow guidelines or errors in how certain items are reported.

Simko said when he first began with the township he would take financial records home because of the complexity of accounting for so much money. “I’d stay up looking at the books, because I was responsible.”

Over time, he said, computerization has helped in the oversight of funds and quickly developed confidence in the personnel.

He pointed out that Vicki Alspach, financial analyst, has worked in the office for 27 years. He said her knowledge of government rules and regulations is complete when it comes to financing in the township.

He also noted that Linda Gilsdorf, payroll specialist, is equally adept at her work for the township.

He praised the job done by Sheila Henry, who recently left the township position when she moved from the area after her husband took a new job. He said that her replacement, Karen Palmer, is doing a good job.

“A perfect audit is the result of experienced, good people,” he said, “and they enable me to sleep at night.”

Leaf Collection

Sylvania Township crews will continue to collect leaves along township streets up until they begin their last cycle scheduled to start Nov. 30.

Rob Nash said earlier collection had been done with relative ease, but that was partly due to the fact that trees held on to most leaves for about two weeks longer than normal this season.

Far from the case now.

Much larger piles of leaves now need to be collected and they are more often soggy as fall rains increase.

For those who are interested to find out when crews might visit their neighborhood, a new service has been initiated.

Go to the township website: Click on the location where you will go to a township map, which has been marked into numbered grids. When you locate the place you are interested in, call the telephone number displayed and an updated message will tell you where crews will be working in the next day or two.

Leaves should be raked or blown to the street-side, but not in the street. Piles should be away from fire hydrants and other obstacles.

Keep brush and garden waste out of the leaf piles. Don’t place leaves in plastic bags.

Development Zoning

Zoning changes that could allow for the development of a 60-unit residential care facility on Sylvania Avenue east of McCord Road will be considered this month by the Lucas County Plan Commission.

The Applicant, Chapel Development LLC, of Holland, is asking that the current zoning for the house at 6805 Sylvania Ave., be changed from its current designation as commercial property.  The property of the house is needed for the facility, but that use is not allowed where the property is zoned as commercial.

The staff of the county commission recommends that the zoning change be recommended to the township for approval and that a special use permit be granted for the residential care facility.

After action by the county the case will be heard by the Sylvania Township Zoning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the township trustees who will make a decision on the matter.

In a companion case, the county will hear a request for a conditional use permit for the facility’s construction to the east of the house at 6805 Sylvania Ave.

The plan calls for splitting the property on which Advent Lutheran Church sits, facing McCord Road so that it will remain.  There is no construction under consideration for the area north of the church to Sylvania Avenue.

Most of the rest of the land would be used for the facility, such as parking, landscaping, and the one-story building itself.

The staff recommends that the commission approve the request.

The issue will then be heard by the Sylvania Township board of zoning appeals.