More than four months after an Election Day defeat, the city of Powell does not yet have a plan for a renewed push for infrastructure funding.
City Council placed an issue on the November 2018 ballot that would have generated $20 million over 10 years by raising the city's income tax from 0.75 percent to 1.15 percent while increasing the tax credit from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent for residents who live in Powell but work in and pay income taxes to another municipality.
The decision came on the recommendation of Powell's Citizen Financial Review Task Force, which worked for months to determine the best way to generate funds for much-needed infrastructure work throughout the city.
Voters did not respond well to the issue, however, and rejected that proposal with 59 percent of the vote in November.
At the end of 2018, City Manager Steve Lutz said analyzing that defeat was a priority for the city in early 2019.
"As a result of the November election, the city is still finding sustainable funds to maintain our capital infrastructure," he said at the time. "So I think, in the coming months, the city will probably try to explore what the residents didn't like about the November income-tax proposal so that we can hopefully continue to look at some sort of a funding mechanism that the residents can get behind."
City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said city staff members have been working behind the scenes to analyze November's defeat and again gauge resident opinion.She said the Powell Community Improvement Corp. is working on an agreement with Columbus research firm Saperstein Associates to “gather feedback and do some research” and said council will “review the results of that” at some point. At their March 12 meeting, the city's finance committee directed city staff to compile a list of "capital maintenance items that directly may impact the safety of the community," a list that will be presented to City Council.
She said the Powell Community Improvement Corp. also has been reviewing plans for funding additional research and outreach.
"We're figuring out, with the residents, what worked and what didn't work and getting back to the drawing board," Canavan said.
Mayor Jon Bennehoof said council members are deferring comment to Canavan until more information is available.
But he did acknowledge that decisions -- likely difficult ones -- will need to be made soon.
"We need to move the ball forward," he said.
"We are looking at opportunities, and we're going to do whatever we can to make sure our infrastructure stays up to date. But we can't get blood out of an orange."