State of the city
Stinchcomb highlights achievements, vision
Taking Gahanna to the next level remains a vision for the city, said mayor Becky Stinchcomb at a March 10 state-of-the-city presentation to the Gahanna Area Chamber of Commerce.
She expects to move the city forward through smart growth, innovative funding, economic success, improved communication and being "citizen centric."
"We say Gahanna is a welcoming community with a small-town feel," she said.
But Gahanna also offers big-city benefits like technology, Stinchcomb said, citing a fiber network agreement between Gahanna's Community Improvement Corporation and Blue Mile Inc. of Columbus.
"To grow smartly, economic success is vital to our ability to provide services to you," she said.
One of the most important things the city has been working on is its fiber utility, Stinchcomb said.
"A lot of businesses want to know if you have fiber in the ground, or they will move on to the next community," she said.
Stinchcomb refers to Gahanna as being "citizen centric."
"To me that's always remembering who we work for - you - and providing what citizens want and need," she said.
Highlighting accomplishments from 2010, Stinchcomb noted the creation of the Citizens Financial Advisory Committee (CFAC).
One recommendation by CFAC was to raise the city's income tax from 1.5 to 2.5, saying the increase would allow Gahanna to continue providing services expected by residents.
But after a second ballot failure for Gahanna-Jefferson schools in November and a subsequent citizen survey, Stinchcomb said she realized now is not the time to go on the ballot.
"We'll do the best with what we have," she said.
Now more than ever, Stinchcomb said, innovative funding is needed, and the city will continue to seek grants.
Gahanna received a Clean Ohio Trails Fund and Recreation Trails Program grants that aided the Big Walnut trail last year.
After 10 years, Stinchcomb said groundbreaking soon would be held on the Tech Center Drive extension, a $6.9-million project funded 80-percent in grants.
"The bridge will be a huge benefit to those who work in the industrial park," she said.
Tech Center Drive will be extended from Morrison Road over I-270 to Hamilton Road as traffic relief for the Morrison Road/Hamilton Road intersection.
If the city didn't accept grants, the funds would be given to another city, Stinchcomb said.
"We believe in these grants and, frankly, we have to," she said. "Without grants, we would have no money for capital projects."
Because Gahanna doesn't have acres of land to development, Stinchcomb said the city has to focus on smart growth.
"We have to focus on redevelopment and we have to accept higher density to preserve green spaces," she said.
The high-density redevelopment mainly would be for commercial projects, Stinchcomb said.
In an attempt to balance the budget, she said many cuts have been implemented, and there was a cost to those cuts.
"Mowing isn't getting done, streets aren't getting repaired or cleaned," she said.
Stinchcomb said the city is adjusting to the "new normal."
Looking to the future, she said Gahanna is always considering outsourcing as a way to save costs.
The city has considered outsourcing the operation of the pool.
"It's an ongoing thing" she said. "We try to be innovative to save taxpayers' money."
Stinchcomb said more residents are getting information online, and the city is working to launch an improved website.
"We're calling it virtual city hall," she said. "We found the website is the second most important way residents are getting information."
Stinchcomb said Anthony Jones will be promoted from deputy development director to director following Sadicka White's retirement at the end of this month.
"The development department has had to redouble its efforts," she said. "We will continue to fund development. Change sometimes provides opportunities."
Stinchcomb said she supports the Gahanna schools, because strong schools attract business to the community.
Very often, she said, the school district is the top employer in the city.
"With 32 teachers receiving layoff notices on Monday (March 7), that will impact the city," she added. "Those jobs pay income taxes."
Taking the city to the next level remains the vision, she said, adding, "What's important to me is to keep moving forward as a city."