Rocky Fork Enterprise

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Restore Gahanna opposes levy, says city overlooked alternatives

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Gahanna faces organized opposition to the Nov. 5 proposed income-tax issue by residents known as Restore Gahanna.

"The primary reason Restore Gahanna opposes this tax increase is that the heaviest burden will fall on the backs of Gahanna school teachers, police, firefighters and the small-business employer," said Alicia L. Holloway, Restore Gahanna spokesperson. "In addition, the budget projections do not include any increased revenue due to an improved economic environment, and City Council has failed to prove that they have looked at all possible alternatives to the substantial tax increase they are requesting. There are other reasons to oppose this tax increase, but these are the most compelling."

Although city leaders have sought suggestions for cuts to balance the budget, Holloway said, that question is based on a false premise.

"The premise assumes voters work for the city and somehow owe our leaders answers," she said. "When citizens elect city government representatives, they are charged with the responsibility to operate within the confines of the resources of its citizens. This means providing the core services, being pragmatic about which projects deserve funding and realizing the wishes of every citizen beyond core services cannot be met."

If specific needs are identified, such as a major parks and recreation upgrades, a specific bond levy could be put before the voters that would have a specific budget and time frame rather than an overall permanent income-tax increase, Holloway said.

"If our current leaders are unable to develop priorities and alternatives such as these, then it may be time to find new leaders," she said.

Holloway said the city's leadership is convinced that threats of drastic, highly visible cuts would encourage more people to vote for a tax increase that is not in their best financial interest.

"We believe that core city responsibilities can be maintained and that cuts should be made to non-essential areas by working back through the priority list," she said. "We will be disappointed but not surprised if City Hall makes the cuts they have outlined. However, the November election promises new council members who have provided ideas during their campaigns.

"By defeating the (1-percentage-point) income-tax increase for the second time, council should hear clearly what Gahanna citizens expect and should have the will to work harder during the next few months to provide solutions before these cuts take place in 2015."

Holloway said Restore Gahanna's members believe some form of tax increase might be necessary, but a permanent 67-percent increase in the income tax is not justified at this time.

"The city needs to prove that they are able to make reasonable revenue projections and responsible budget decisions and then propose a bond levy or a smaller income-tax increase that the entire city can get behind," she said.

The campaign committee, Restore Gahanna, officially was formed in August.

The committee includes active volunteers and has received both public and private support from many individuals, Holloway said.

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