Rocky Fork Enterprise

Guest column

Mayor: Residents' vote gives leaders direction on city's future

By Becky Stinchcomb
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On Tuesday, May 7, Gahanna voters have an important decision to make regarding Issue 4, the income-tax reform question.

The outcome of this vote will directly impact the quality of life our citizens will enjoy in the coming years and will give city leaders direction as to what kind of city the residents wish to have, which types of services they wish to be provided and the quality level of those services. Will we be a city providing just the basics, with a moderate level of public services? Or will we be a city that provides quality services, well-paved roads and well-plowed streets, comprehensive safety services and well-groomed parks, to name just a few examples?

We have not changed the income-tax structure for the people who work in Gahanna in more than 35 years.

This revenue will not fund enhancements like a new recreation center or additional public facilities, but it will help us repair or replace the things that we already have that are falling into disrepair or failing. The tax reform will allow the city to continue to invest in you, your families and your quality of life.

If the measure fails, the leaders of the city will realign priorities based on our current funding, and many additional serious cuts in budgets will be necessary. Services will be reduced or cut to ensure a stable financial position.

I have had the pleasure of talking with dozens of citizens groups, civic associations and neighborhood gatherings since six of seven council members voted to put the tax-reform question on the ballot. Hundreds of interested residents have attended these talks, and I am grateful to all who have come out to get more information or have visited our website, gahanna.gov, to see the vast amount of information there. I've been pleased with the positive response after voters are educated on the issue and understand why this additional revenue is truly needed now. The majority of our residents already work in a city that has a 2.5-percent income tax rate and, with this tax reform, would receive a lower tax bill. Many would pay the same. Retired citizens do not and would not pay local tax on their retirement incomes.

I am especially pleased by the positive reaction of many people who live and work in Gahanna, those who will see the biggest change in their rate, who are among the issue's biggest supporters. These people live and work here, are doubly invested in the community and most fully understand how much this investment is needed, as they spend much time in Gahanna and have large personal and business investments here that they want to protect.

As your mayor, it is my job to inform you of your options as voters. Will we have a quality city that can compete among the best, in terms of services and programs, with any city in central Ohio -- a city we are even more proud to call home? Or will we be a city of modest means, providing the basics, with just an average quality of life to offer our citizens?

I believe the choice is truly that stark. As your mayor for the past 12 years, I truly believe this increase is needed at this point in our history. I believe this requested rate would sustain us for many years to come. I am proud of how well we have conservatively managed our finances, as was strongly confirmed this month by Moody's, reaffirming the second-highest possible credit rating of Aa1 for Gahanna.

I urge Gahanna to continue to be a city where citizens can state with confidence that we can compete with any city in the area as one of the best places to live, as we were named in 2007 by Money Magazine.

The choice is yours. I urge you to vote for Issue 4 on May 7.

Beck Stinchcomb is Gahanna mayor.

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