Columbus Voters’ Guide to the May 7 Primary Ballot
The primary election is coming up on Tuesday, May 7, and while there aren’t any local candidates vying for office, Columbus is asking voters to approve a hefty $1.03 billion bond package. The funds would go toward a number of items, like capital improvements, neighborhood recreation centers, affordable housing, and a new Franklin County Municipal Court complex. It’s all pieced up into Issues 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11.
Issue 7 would put $205 million toward health, safety and infrastructure. This includes police and fire facility improvements, apparatus replacement and safety equipment, totaling $45 million; the new Municipal Court building, estimated at $150 million; and police substations and fire substations; and police substations and fire stations, for $30 million. This bond issue is valued at 0.91 mills, $0.091 per $100 of valuation, for 22 years.
Issue 8 addresses recreation and parks, allotting $100 million toward related projects. About $1.5 million is dedicated to the Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund; $38.5 million will fund improvements to swimming facilities, the creation of new recreation centers, and park and playground development; nearly $40 million will cover facility and HVAC improvements; and the rest will go toward bikeway and greenway improvements, park acquisition, and other projects. It’s valued at 0.53 mills, $0.053 per $100 of valuation, for 17 years.
Issue 9 covers public service with a total of $425 million. This includes reduce collection containers and equipment ($24 million), refuse facility improvements ($400,000), sidewalk and intersection improvements ($40.5 million), housing initiatives ($4.8 million), bridge rehab ($40 million), roadway and curb improvements ($62 million), street equipment, and other roadway furnishings and equipment. The bond issue is valued at 2.33 mills, $0.233 per $100 of land valuation, for 16 years.
Issue 10 would dedicate $250 million to public utilities projects. This includes improvements to water systems ($125 million), sanitary systems ($100 million), and power and street lighting systems ($25 million). It’s valued at 1.03 mills, $0.103 per $100 of valuation, for 25 years.
Issue 11 will invest in neighborhood development, with its total, $50 million, going toward affordable housing. It’s valued at 0.24 mills, $0.024 per $100 of valuation, for 20 years.
These bonds don’t necessitate the funding of projects, especially if the city is encountering an off economic year. And the amounts allotted for each of these bond issues are estimates for project costs, says County Auditor Megan Kilgore, allowing room for unexpected circumstances.
“We have these ‘buckets,’ for water, public service, i.e. roads, but just like when we’re renovating our bathroom at home, we don’t know, necessarily, what we’re going to encounter,” says Kilgore. “We might need more tile or grout, or run into mold issues. The same thing happens in government. So, what we do is try to create these buckets, knowing that these are our intended capital expenditures.”
Bond issues essentially grant the city permission to raise property taxes, if needed. While the city has never raised property taxes, voter approval helps the city maintain its AAA credit rating. The city uses a quarter of its 2.5 percent income tax to pay off debt.
For more information, visit columbus.gov.