It was close in November -- close enough to try it again.
Gahanna City Council on Feb. 4 voted 6-1 to return to voters May 7 with an income-tax issue nearly identical to what narrowly failed in November.
Voting in favor of returning in May were council president Brian Metzbower and members Karen Angelou, Nancy McGregor, Michael Schnetzer, Stephen Renner and Brian Larick. Council member Jamie Leeseberg cast the lone dissenting vote.
The issue in November was an income-tax increase from 1.5 to 2.5 percent. Council had promised to increase the tax credit from 83.33 to 100 percent to those who pay municipal taxes elsewhere if voters had approved Issue 29.
With this measure, the ballot language includes the credit increase.
The other difference is the language describing the tax revenue’s use.
Schnetzer asked to amend wording of proposed ballot language to provide specifics so voters know exactly what the issue would provide.
Council unanimously approved that amendment.
“I don’t know that capital improvements resonate with a lot of people,” Schnetzer said.
The ballot language states that 75 percent of the revenue resulting from the increase in income tax, if approved, would be dedicated for the purposes of capital improvements and equipment for infrastructure, public safety, municipal facilities or parks and recreation, to include but not limited to streets, buildings, parks facilities, trails and playground elements, maintenance and repair of the equipment and paying debt service for such purposes.
The other 25 percent would fund operations for public safety, public service or parks and recreation to include but not limited to police protection, 911 emergency services, snow removal, streetlight and traffic-signal maintenance and parks-and-recreation programs.
“It feels rushed,” Leeseberg said. “There’s potential for mistakes. We also had (residents) who showed up and wanted to lead this on their own.”
Angelou said it would have cost $45,000 for the residents to place an issue on the ballot during an August special election, and they would’ve had to gather 1,800 signatures.
“I see the point; it appears rushed,” she said. “I have great confidence in the people wanting to get this passed. We all know what will happen if it doesn’t pass. I think the people of Gahanna will step up and do the right thing.”
Leeseberg said he doesn’t want his nay vote to be misinterpreted as lack of support, adding that he hopes voters approve it.
“In order to maintain Gahanna as a community where people want to live and businesses want to locate and remain a safe community and with nine years of economic growth, the city has reduced services and parks and recreation programming to maintain core infrastructure for 2019,” the legislation states. “Safety in our community must continue to be a priority, and police protection and keeping a police presence in our schools is and will continue to be critical for Gahanna.”
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