Rocky Fork Enterprise

Ward 2 council race

Schnetzer says he offers 'fiscally conservative' option

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Michael Schnetzer is challenging incumbent Brandon Wright in a rematch for the Ward 2 council seat.

The two ran against each other in 2011, when Wright won by a handful of votes.

Schnetzer, 32, is a director/municipal analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.

"I ran for Ward 2 City Council in the 2011 race largely because of the impending budgetary pressures that were coming down the pike at that time," he said. "My wish was that I would have been able to draw from my professional experience reviewing city budgets to help Gahanna maximize its financial resources."

In reviewing Gahanna's recent financial statements, Schnetzer said, it is evident that cuts to the Local Government Fund and reduced investment returns on fund balances have reduced revenue.

"I recognize there is a need for additional revenue to replace these lost or reduced sources of income, though I question if 2.5 percent is the appropriate income-tax level," he said. "I am running for City Council for the same reasons as before: I wish to lend my municipal finance expertise to my hometown. Before asking the residents of Gahanna for a full 1-percent increase, I would like the opportunity to work with council to implement some of my cost-savings and revenue-maximizing ideas to ensure that what is being requested at the ballot is no more than the minimum that is needed to shore up the budget."

Schnetzer said he has reviewed the administration's five-year forecast that includes proposed reductions in spending.

"The administration outlines dozens of line items targeted for reduced spending," he said. "There is insufficient space here to discuss each of the proposed cuts individually, but I believe it is best summarized by saying the administration has proposed focusing on core, essential city services, which, I agree, should be the focus of finite resources.

"If elected to council, I would focus taxpayer funds to core capital projects and services, such as infrastructure -- roads, bridges, sidewalks -- and police."

Schnetzer said he believes he's best qualified to represent Ward 2 because he's employed in the field of municipal finance as a municipal analyst, evaluating the finances of cities much like Gahanna from all across the country.

"I hope to leverage my expertise to introduce many of the ideas and strategies I have seen other cities employ as they navigate the current economic backdrop," he said. "More importantly, I have extensive experience reviewing case studies of cities that have gotten themselves into trouble financially and hope that I may help Gahanna steer clear of these same mistakes.

"Furthermore, should voters elect not to approve the tax-increase proposal, I believe my particular budgetary skills set would be incredibly valuable as a member of City Council," he said.

Schnetzer said residents should vote for him because he's deeply passionate about helping the city he calls home.

"My wife and I did not grow up in Gahanna; instead we chose Gahanna when we moved to central Ohio over the surrounding communities in the Columbus area," he said. "We were attracted to what makes this city so wonderful, and I aim to use my talents and skills set to preserve what makes Gahanna great and shepherd the city to new heights."

Schnetzer said Gahanna has reached an economic crossroads like other cities across the country that are still struggling to rise from a deep recession.

"During this time, we need financial expertise on council to help create and implement sound fiscal policies," he said. "I firmly believe my extensive professional experience as a municipal financial analyst would be an invaluable asset as the city is determining how to maximize Gahanna's financial resources.

"Furthermore, should the voters not support the income-tax proposal in November, it will be of paramount importance to have someone on council who has analyzed how other cities have navigated the current economic malaise. I am running to provide the residents of Ward 2 with a fiscally conservative option to the incumbent."

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