For the second time, a proposed income-tax increase has been defeated by Gahanna voters.
Gahanna’s Issue 17, a proposed city income-tax rate increase from 1.5 to 2.5 percent, failed for a second time, according to unofficial results from the Franklin County Board of Elections.
With all 35 precincts reporting Tuesday night, the measure failed 4,510 votes to 3,857 votes, or 53.9 percent against the measure to 46.1 percent for it.
Mayor Becky Stinchomb said she’s very disappointed.
“The people of Gahanna lost tonight,” she said. “That’s who really lost. There were still people who were confused on what this was about. There was misinformation as hard as we tried to get factual information (out there).
“More importantly, there’s anger out there at the federal government and state government that trickled onto us,” she said. “Many heard tax increase and shut down (and just said) no. That was always a difficult hurdle to overcome.”
Alicia Holloway, spokesperson for Restore Gahanna, said she’s happy the city will have an opportunity to review what’s needed again.
She led a campaign that opposed the measure.
Holloway said she hopes City Council and the city administrators would go back and bring another proposal that’s more in line with what residents would like to see.
“We’re not saying there isn’t an increase needed,” Holloway said. “We’d like large-dollar projects set aside for limited-term bond types of issues – the large-dollar things like the residential streets needing to be taken care of or the pools. We’d like to look at anything that’s a one-time or large-dollar project.”
George Mrus, spokesperson of Citizens for Strong Gahanna, said he appreciates those who helped try to pass the issue.
“I would like to thank all the volunteers who contributed their effort and time on behalf of Citizens for a Strong Gahanna for their passion for the town we call home, Gahanna,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, the voters have spoken.
The tax increase would have generated about $8 million annually. It was earmarked for general municipal operations and services, including police, street maintenance, parks and recreation and capital improvements.
Stinchcomb has said the city needed to either increase its revenue or make serious cuts to have a balanced budget in the future.
Without the new revenue, the city is poised to close the swimming pools, the Ohio Herb Education Center and the Gahanna Senior Center in 2015.
“We’ll continue our conversation with people,” Stinchcomb said. “We’ll have a balanced budget and do the best we can with what we have.”
The same proposed tax issue was defeated in the May primary, when 1,946 (51.62 percent) voted against it and 1,824 (48.38 percent) voted for the measure.
The board of elections will certify results on or before Tuesday, Nov 26, said Ben Piscitelli, elections board spokesperson.