Rocky Fork Enterprise

Jobs, pools, Herb Center face budget ax in Gahanna

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Gahanna’s Senior Center, the Ohio Herb Education Center, city swimming pools and 100 jobs are on the chopping block for 2015, if additional revenues aren’t generated.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb and Finance Director Jennifer Teal announced  the recommendations as part of a  5-year forecast and 2014 tax budget, during a City Council committee meeting Monday, June 24.

Stinchcomb said there was an “all hands on deck”  meeting with employees earlier in the day to let them know their jobs may be at risk.

“We have to work in a transparent environment, so we had to notify employees they might not have a job in the future,” she said. “I didn’t want employees to find out through the paper or rumors.”

The city faces a $12.8 million gap between projected general fund revenue and all identified needs for 2014, and the projected gap for 2015 is an additional $8 million.

Stinchcomb said the recommendation is one she didn’t want to make, and that’s why the city placed a 1 percent income tax rate increase on the May ballot. Gahanna currently has a 1.5 percent income tax rate.

“For reasons I will never understand for as long as I live, truly, only 12 percent of Gahanna’s citizens came out to vote last month,” she said. “Issue 4 only lost by 122 votes, a small fraction of our eligible voters. I truly thought more people would be energized to cast a ballot with a tax question on it. I was wrong.”

Stinchcomb said a good number of citizens have since asked for another opportunity to cast a ballot and given the city’s important unfunded needs, she recommends council place the question before voters  again, preferably in November.

The city faces an Aug. 7 deadline to place an issue on the November ballot.

“As you all well know, there are four ward seats up for election this fall, as well as school board races, and township trustee seats,” Stinchcomb said. “Hopefully, in November, given more issues on the ballot, and also, hopefully given this preview tonight of what Gahanna’s future looks like without additional revenues, the voters may this time see fit to turn out in much larger numbers.”

For more on this story, read the June 27 edition of the ThisWeek Rocky Fork Enterprise.

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