Revised anti-racism resolution on Canal Winchester City Council’s Feb. 16 agenda

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Canal Winchester municipal offices

Canal Winchester City Council plans to put its “resolution to our commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity” back on the agenda for its Feb. 16 meeting. 

In the meantime, city leaders encourage residents to visit the city’s website, canalwinchesterohio.gov, read the updated resolution and provide comments, which must be received by noon Feb. 12. 

The resolution, which is available as part of council’s meeting agenda notices on the website, recognizes Franklin County’s declaration that racism is a public health crisis. 

Franklin County Public Health serves as the city’s health department. 

Residents can provide comments at canalwinchesterohio.gov/FormCenter/City-Council-Forms-12/Public-Comment-Submission-86.

“We do want to give our public the option to read and comment,” said Councilwoman Jill Amos, who worked on the resolution with council members Pat Lynch and Chuck Milliken. “We just wanted to make sure there was ample time to read it.” 

The new resolution states that council “discourages” – as opposed to “condemns,” which appeared in a previous version – racism and discrimination “in all forms” and promotes “unity with due respect to the diversity of all thoughts, beliefs and demographics.” 

It also states that Canal Winchester residents “have seen firsthand the evil nature of racism.” 

“I think we’re at a point where we’ve reached a final version of this,” Milliken said. “This has been a very fluid document, and anyone following along at home should be able to keep tabs on it.” 

Last fall, council appeared ready to declare racism a public-health crisis, following the lead of a handful of cities, including Columbus and Youngstown, as well as Franklin County Public Health, which was one of the first public agencies nationally to formally declare racism a public health crisis in May 2020. 

However, council members decided to table the resolution until they could receive more input from the community and others. 

The resolution pledges that council will send a liaison to Franklin County Public Health’s Community Health Action Team. The initiative is a partnership between the health department and county residents aimed at building healthier communities.

The resolution also says council “believes that it would be beneficial to its residents that the city administration and elected officials seek out or continue to attend annual inclusion and/or diversity training.”  

2020 tax collections  

While some municipalities saw their income-tax collections suffer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canal Winchester’s numbers “exceeded expectations,” city Finance Director Amanda Jackson told council during the Feb. 1 meeting. 

Collections for 2020 totaled $7.7 million, up nearly 4% from 2019. 

“Obviously, there were several things that were less than what we were expecting because of the pandemic, like hotel taxes, swimming pool revenue and building rentals, and interest rates weren’t what they were in 2019,” Jackson said. 

The city’s general fund finished 2020 with $2.4 million “in excess,” Jackson reported. 

“This is the reason why we were able to take on some of these projects coming up,” she said. “This is a very busy construction year.” 

City officials hope to be in Canal Winchester’s new hub of operations by the end of 2021 as work continues to transform the former McDorman Auto Museum into a municipal building and community center. 

Work on the first of the three-phase McGill Park also is beginning.

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