Rocky Fork Enterprise

Sponsors extend hand to help fund Creepside

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Business sponsors, local volunteers and organizations will treat area youth to the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Department's annual Creepside Festival on Wednesday, Oct. 16.

Mayor Becky Stinchcomb announced during the Aug. 5 Gahanna City Council meeting that the festival would return, thanks to the parks-rec department receiving generous financial support from repeat sponsor Schneider Insurance, backed by Motorists Mutual Insurance Co., as well as Creekside's Strathmore Development Co.

Stinchcomb said state Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), a first-time sponsor, made the final contribution that makes this year's festival a financial possibility.

Finance director Jennifer Teal announced in June that sponsors would be needed to offset the city's cost of supporting community events like Creepside. The city's fireworks show and Freedom Festival were canceled to save money.

In addition to the sponsorships, Stinchcomb said, more than 100 volunteers have committed to the fall festival.

Pathway Church will return to operate the "Not so Scary Trail" along the Big Walnut Creek.

Stinchcomb said Gahanna Christian Academy also has pledged volunteers to assist with entry points, setup, cleanup and logistical support.

"More volunteers, partnerships and donations are still needed to make Creepside successful," Stinchcomb said. "Recreation staff is currently asking for candy donations and for businesses or groups to donate time and talent for fun fall activities and games for kids. Local organizations and businesses who are interested should contact the Parks & Recreation Department as soon as possible."

She said the parks-rec department and the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau are continuing efforts to fund events and programs via sponsors and partners.

Additional sponsor needs for the remainder of 2013 include the Sept. 20 Senior Expo, visits with Santa on Saturdays in December at the Ohio Herb Education Center and the Holiday Lights! parade.

Sponsors also are needed to support the Gahanna Parks & Recreation Foundation at its annual fundraiser, Friday After Five, on Friday, Sept. 13.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the Senior Expo, Santa visits or the foundation should visit the city's partnership and sponsor page at gahanna.gov.

To sponsor the Holiday Lights! parade, go online to VisitGahanna.com.

In council action, legislation to amend the city's income-tax credit was postponed to Aug. 19.

Council member Brian Larick said the purpose of the delay is to allow the public another opportunity to comment during a public hearing.

Council has placed the same income-tax reform proposal on the November ballot that failed by 122 votes in May.

The issue would raise the city's income-tax rate from 1.5 to 2.5 percent. If the measure is approved, council will adjust the tax credit residents pay to another municipality from 83.3 to 100 percent.

Teal released the city's second-quarter 2013 financial report Aug. 2, detailing revenues and expenses for the general fund through June 30.

The report shows general-fund revenues exceeded expenses by $1,176,541.

"Despite the positive financial results through the second quarter, the city continues to face significant financial challenges," Teal said in a press release. "The short-term gains are insufficient to cover the ongoing revenue lost due to state cuts to the Local Government Fund, elimination of the estate tax in 2013 and declining interest rates."

With the loss in long-term revenue, paired with the increased cost of maintaining aging infrastructure and rising costs in general, Teal said, the city projects a funding gap of $12.8 million for 2014 that would be closed by reducing service levels and eliminating or postponing capital projects.

The increase in general-fund revenue through the second quarter is largely attributable to one-time sources, she said, including final estate-tax distributions and a surge in license and permit revenue due to key development projects such as the Lofts at Creekside and the construction of the Residences at Central Park.

The complete second-quarter financial report has been posted on the city's website at gahanna.gov, under financial publications.

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