More funds would be dedicated to the repair and maintenance of Gahanna streets under a proposed tax measure that is on the May 7 ballot.

Voters will decide the fate of Issue 12, a proposal to increase the city's income-tax rate from 1.5% to 2.5%, and increase the tax credit from 83.33% to 100% for those who pay municipal taxes elsewhere.

If approved, 75% of the revenue resulting from the increase would be dedicated for capital improvements and equipment for infrastructure, public safety, municipal facilities or parks and recreation, to include but not be 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% would fund operations for public safety, public service or parks and recreation to include but not be limited to police protection, 911 emergency services, snow removal, streetlight and traffic-signal maintenance and parks and recreation programs.

Early in-person voting and absentee voting by mail for the May 7 primary began April 9.

Rob Priestas, Gahanna's director of public service and engineering, said there is a backlog of $34 million in identified roadway improvement projects within the community.

"With Issue 29 not being successful in November, and if Issue 12 isn't successful, there's a backlog of $34 million in projects that we won't be able to move forward with," he said.

Some of those projects include work on the intersection at Stygler and Agler roads and the improvement of Taylor Station and Claycraft roads.

"There are some major intersections in our community that need work," Priestas said. "I think roadway projects have a big impact."

Priestas said the desire would be to accelerate the city's road-maintenance program to have 96% of the city's roadways to have at a pavement condition rating of 75 or better based on an 0-100 scale.

Criteria that determine the rating includes extent of cracking, concrete condition, crack-seal condition and pavement defects such as potholes.

"Right now we have about 85% at a PCR of 75 or better," Priestas said.

"If Issue 12 is successful, it would allow us the funds to be able to repair and address the roadways in the community and improve the quality of life for our residents," he said. "If it's not successful, these maintenance issues would be left unaddressed and deferred for some time until funds were available."

He said he anticipates a reduction or elimination of the asphalt-overlay program and the Detroit-style street replacement program in 2020, if the issue fails.

Priestas said an example of the street conditions the city is addressing is Brookhill Drive, which has a 56 PCR.

He said the Detroit-style street is a type of street that originally was an all-concrete pavement where the street surface, curb and gutter are all one complete concrete piece, which was not designed for the addition of an asphalt surface.

These streets were a common street standard throughout Gahanna in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Over the decades, as funds became too limited to properly repair the concrete street, the Detroit-style streets began receiving a thin asphalt overlay, which created problems with drainage at drives and downspout drain holes," Priestas said. "Since the late 1980s, we have been reconstructing these streets as annual funds would allow.

"Detroit-style streets are rebuilt to today's street standards and include an asphalt surface, a concrete base and separate curb and gutter, which allows for easier and more cost-effective maintenance."

Priestas said the street program helps prolong the life of city streets and helps maintain property values.

"All infrastructure is impacted (by Issue 12)," he said. "If it's unsuccessful, we can't fund any one-time capital. All those (projects) would be deferred. If successful, we could move forward."

Gahanna police Chief Jeff Spence said well-maintained roads are needed to ensure safe travel for residents and those who visit the city.

"We respond to crashes," he said. "It's a public-safety issue. We need well-maintained intersections, a solid infrastructure. All those things that are part of the city. We need good recreation programs, especially with the young folks. Parks and rec keeps young people engaged."

If youth aren't engaged, Spence said, they can make bad choices.

He said it's critical all those components are there.

"Everything we do is either supported by or working in concert with the other departments that serve the city," Spence said.

Carrin Wester, chairwoman of the Issue 12 campaign and member of Gahanna Residents Improving Tomorrow, the group promoting the issue, said the city has a lot of backlogged infrastructure and road projects.

"The longer we set these repairs aside, the more expensive they become to complete," she said. "Simply put, deferring repairs to our streets simply costs a lot more money in the future."

ThisWeek is unaware of any organized group opposing Issue 12.

For additional about Issue 12, including a tax calculator to show how the increase would affect individuals, go to gahanna.gov/issue12/.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla