Westerville News & Public Opinion

Chamber backs extension of city's PROS tax


Westerville's proposed renewal of its PROS tax received a vote of confidence last week when the Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce announced it is backing the extension on November's ballot.

The 20-year extension of the city's 0.25-percent income tax for parks projects is up for vote Nov. 4.

The chamber board considered whether to support the tax on a recommendation by the chamber's government relations committee, which unanimously voted for support.

Chamber President and CEO Janet Tressler-Davis said the full board followed suit, and that while there are a small number of dissenters, most people in the organization feel positively about the tax.

"We view parks and recreation as an added benefit for the community that adds to quality of life and is an attribute that adds to business development and recruitment," Tressler-Davis said. "And it's a benefit for anyone who works and lives in our city limits."

Tressler-Davis said having healthy employees provides for a healthy work environment, and that the planned projects from the Parks and Recreation Master Plan -- particularly expanded leisure trails -- are encouraging.

"The bike paths and connectivity of the Erie Trail really helps put us on the map in many ways, not only for a healthy community but also the people riding through and potentially stopping and having dinner or ice cream at our shops," she said. "And if they see something in our community when they come through, maybe it invites them to return."

She also noted the money from the tax can be used on upkeep of existing amenities.

From a business perspective, Tressler-Davis said the tax is a solid move, and pointed to the city's ability to leverage the funds for grants or other resources if the extension is passed now.

"It's a wise decision to seek capital investments, grants and matching funds to be good stewards of the money that they do have from our community," she said. "It would be one thing if they just went out and spent it, but they're getting mileage out of that money."

And while 20 years is a long time for most, Tressler-Davis was careful to point out the extension isn't forever.

"It's not permanent," she said. "It gives us a chance to let them perform and do what they say they were going to do, and then we'll vote on it again."