Candidate Ray Kautz is challenging incumbent Stephen Renner in a race for the Ward 1 Gahanna City Council seat.

Candidate Ray Kautz is challenging incumbent Stephen Renner in a race for the Ward 1 Gahanna City Council seat.

Kautz, 24, is employed at ToolTex Inc. in Grove City as a financial analyst/project manager.

He said he's against the city's proposed income-tax increase.

"The city needs to tighten its belt, period," Kautz said. "A 66-percent income-tax increase for Gahanna citizens living and working in Gahanna and for all Gahanna businesses is disgraceful. Gahanna citizens who choose to live and work in Gahanna and all Gahanna businesses are unjustly targeted."

When asked if the city is making appropriate cuts following May's income-tax levy defeat, he said the elimination of the Gahanna Freedom Festival fireworks was an irresponsible cut.

"In 2012, the festival cost approximately $45,000," he said. "In 2013, the city of Gahanna spent approximately $60,000 in taxpayer funds on literature promoting the income-tax increase in May. That 'no' vote was disregarded by my opponent, who voted to place the tax increase for the second time on the ballot in 2013. The approximately $60,000 should have been used to fund this patriotic event for Gahanna's veterans and families, the balance being used to fund more appropriate city expenditures."

Kautz said the cancellation of fireworks, supported by his opponent, blindsided Gahanna citizens.

"He sat silently as a patriotic event that brings the community together was canceled," he said. "This political maneuvering leads to the obvious need to re-evaluate the projected deficit being communicated to Gahanna residents."

The 24-year-old has a bachelor's degree in finance and pre-law.

"I prepare budgets, forecasts and perform day-to-day monitoring of costs," Kautz said. "These skills enhance municipal financial integrity. I will rein in waste and promote the most efficient use of taxpayer funds. I will make budgets and contracts that reflect the current tax code and not repeatedly put tax measures on the ballot if I don't approve of the outcome, unlike my opponent."

Kautz said Ward 1 voters have the option of two very different candidates.

"(One is) an incumbent, who voted yes for a permanent tax increase in February and wasted $60,000 in taxpayer funds," he said. "Then he ignored the 'no' result on the proposed income-tax increase, as voted on in May 2013, voting to place it again on the ballot in November of this year."

Kautz is a lifetime resident of Gahanna, he said.

"I plan to raise a family here," he said. "I've been in this community longer than my opponent, and I've seen it grow. I'm asking for your vote because ballot measures, like the one my opponent supports, which penalize citizens for living and working in Gahanna, are unacceptable and won't happen ever again after I am elected."