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Columbus bond package set at $842 million

City officials say approval of the bond package won't increase taxes

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Columbus city officials have attached an $842 million price tag to a package of bonds to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

City Council is expected to take action next month to place the issues before voters. They would affect four key areas.

Money from the four bond issues will help shape the city's five-year capital improvements budget.

A bulk of the funds, $445 million, would go toward water and stormwater upgrades, and street lighting.

The city also wants to spend $220 million on public service improvements, including resurfacing, sidewalks, roadways, bikeways and street equipment.

Next in line is recreation and parks, which would receive $124 million for rec centers, bike paths, pools, parks, playgrounds and equipment.

Another $53 million would be spent on police and fire facilities, vehicles and equipment.

Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Auditor Hugh Dorrian and members of Columbus City Council assembled the bond package after a series of public meetings in early June. They also met with department leaders to put a fine point on the bonds' value.

Terri Leist, assistant administrator of recreation and parks, said she's pleased with the deference the city is showing the department.

"In order to continue our service for the public, we need to have a balance to maintain what we have as well as going forward to meet our future needs," Leist said.

"This allocation allows us to do that, and we are very grateful to the mayor and City Council."

The city says voter approval of the bond issues, which will not raise taxes, will help protect Columbus' AAA bond rating, effectively allowing the city to borrow money at a lower interest rate.

Dorrian said the city has an impressive track record on voter approval of bond packages. Since 1956, voters have approved 82 of 88 bond issue requests, the last one failing in 1981.

"I think people understand these issues," he said.

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