GAHANNA

The Columbus Dispatch - - Metro&state - Ks­[email protected]­patch.com @kev­in_s­tank

same group of res­i­dents would end up pay­ing more. In 2016, the lat­est year for which data is avail­able, about 14,600 Gahanna res­i­dents worked out­side the city, The Dis­patch re­ported in Au­gust.

A pub­lic hear­ing on the leg­is­la­tion is sched­uled for 6:30 p.m. Mon­day at Gahanna City Hall, 200 S. Hamil­ton Road.

Gahanna’s cur­rent tax credit is 83.3 per­cent. The pro­posal calls for it to be low­ered to 50 per­cent.

Most of Colum­bus’ suburbs, ex­cept Gahanna, Bex­ley and Pick­er­ing­ton, give 100 per­cent cred­its to res­i­dents who work in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Gahanna of­fi­cials said the pro­posal would gen­er­ate an es­ti­mated $3.4 mil­lion an­nu­ally. The un­suc­cess­ful bal­lot mea­sure in Novem­ber, known as Is­sue 29, was ex­pected to gen­er­ate about $9 mil­lion per year, city of­fi­cials said.

City lead­ers say Gahanna needs to find a way to in­crease rev­enue be­cause it’s been stag­nant for years

while ex­pen­di­tures have in­creased.

City coun­cil also is re­view­ing the city’s 2019 bud­get to elim­i­nate a pro­jected $2.9 mil­lion short­fall.

“We are look­ing at the long-term sta­bil­ity of the city,” Coun­cil­man Brian Met­zbower said. “We are not look­ing to kick the can down the road and have many of these bur­geon­ing prob­lems fall in the laps of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Road main­te­nance and other in­fra­struc­ture re­pairs, city of­fi­cials said, are among the projects most in jeop­ardy with­out a rev­enue in­crease.

Met­zbower said it might seem pos­si­ble to skip one year’s worth of road re­pairs, but “it’s just go­ing to make things that much more ex­pen­sive in fu­ture years.”

The pro­posal has been met with some crit­i­cism. Res­i­dent Jen­nifer Chi­ap­pisi, 40, whose hus­band works out­side the city, said it feels like re­tal­i­a­tion for the in­come-tax in­crease is­sue not be­ing ap­proved in Novem­ber.

Chi­ap­pisi said she has con­cerns about Gahanna’s fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion but feels like the city has “been cry­ing wolf a bit.”

“Sev­eral years ago there

“We are look­ing at the long-term sta­bil­ity of the city. We are not look­ing to kick the can down the road and have many of these bur­geon­ing prob­lems fall in the laps of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Coun­cil­man Brian Met­zbower

were var­i­ous threats of los­ing ser­vices. One was about po­ten­tially los­ing one of our swim­ming pools. And none of them ever ma­te­ri­al­ized de­spite the in­come tax not pass­ing then,” Chi­ap­pisi said, ref­er­enc­ing a 2013 in­come-tax in­crease that also was re­jected by vot­ers.

Chi­ap­pisi said she wants a more open dis­cus­sion about the city’s fi­nances to oc­cur be­fore an­other in­come-tax in­crease is placed on the bal­lot.

Coun­cil­man Stephen Ren­ner said he’s sym­pa­thetic to res­i­dents who feel caught off guard by the pro­posed tax-credit re­duc­tion.

“We did not tell vot­ers that this is some­thing we would opt to do if Is­sue 29 failed,” he said, adding that he doesn’t sup­port the leg­is­la­tion at this time.

Ren­ner said he would like to see an­other in­cometax in­crease ap­pear on the bal­lot in 2019, with the un­der­stand­ing that if it doesn’t pass, the city would take ac­tion to in­crease rev­enues, such as re­duc­ing the in­come-tax credit for res­i­dents who work out­side Gahanna.

He also said it’s im­por­tant for the city coun­cil to lis­ten to what res­i­dents say they would be will­ing to sup­port.

“But the cen­tral dis­cus­sion al­ways has to be about the (fi­nan­cial) need,” Ren­ner added.

Mayor Tom Knee­land shared sim­i­lar thoughts. He said he’d sup­port leg­is­la­tion re­duc­ing the in­come-tax credit to 50 per­cent, be­gin­ning Jan. 1, 2020, if the city doesn’t gain ad­di­tional rev­enues this year through an in­come-tax in­crease.

What­ever hap­pens, Knee­land stressed that the city needs a long-term so­lu­tion to its fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

Knee­land said he has frozen raises for all nonunion work­ers in the city and put in place a tem­po­rary hir­ing freeze for un­filled po­si­tions.

“We have to be able to keep the city sus­tain­able,” he said.

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