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City Council asks for opinions, gets them in spades

Columbus leaders pop by Clintonville for rap session

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People on fixed incomes can't afford to pay ever-increasing property taxes, Perry Wise declared last week.

Yet residents of Franklin County are almost constantly being asked to renew or increase levies, the 71-year-old Clintonville resident said.

Moreover, Wise argued, these hikes are being fostered in some instances by people who live downtown -- he named Mayor Michael B. Coleman specifically -- and who therefore wouldn't have to pay them as a result of property-tax abatements.

This system, he said, is "creating peons or peasants or serfs or whatever you want to call them."

"Even if I think the schools need money, I'm going to vote against it," Wise said.

That was why he was on hand last week for Columbus City Council's meeting at the Whetstone Community Recreation Center. He wanted to give the chairman of council's development committee -- and anyone else who would listen -- a piece of his mind about property-tax increases, as well as what he called unnecessary construction in the area, such as the turn lane at East North Broadway and bike-lane indicators.

"It seems like the city has unlimited money and they just want to spend it," Wise said while he and dozens of others waited for the council members to arrive.

This was the first time the ongoing series of community meetings was held in Clintonville since it was launched more than three years ago. The council members visited the Northwest Side with a stop at Centennial High School in September 2012 and have on three occasions held the meetings at Feddersen Community Recreation Center, on the border between Northland and North Linden, in February 2011, 2012 and 2013.

"We go to all different parts of the city ... to give folks an opportunity to sit down with council members across the tables," council President Andy Ginther said in welcoming people to the Whetstone Center gathering.

Ginther introduced those council members who were on hand for the start of the community meeting -- a few arrived late -- and provided their committee assignments to people with specific "ideas, concerns (and) questions."

"Let's keep the ideas flowing," Ginther said, and with that, Wise and others sat down to ask questions, offer suggestions and perhaps dish out criticism to elected officials.

"I think it's impressive that the council members come out to the community," said Randy Ketcham, the Clintonville Area Commission's District 6 representative.

He and District 7's Jason Meek said they attended the community meeting not because they had anything specific to discuss with council members, but to show their support for the concept.

"We appreciate them coming out in the community," Meek said.

CAC Chairman Daniel B. Miller and Libby Wetherholt of District 3 also were present when the gathering got underway.

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