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The ballot to be provided to the Columbus voters for the May 10 election will have two questions on the extension of the current city sales tax.
The questions will be divided into two parts, Proposition “A” and Proposition “B.” The divided question was intentionally split by the City Council to provide the greatest opportunity for the voters to express their positions on each portion of the requested extension of the sales tax.
Proposition “A” ask voters to vote for or against continuation of the current one percent (1.0%) sales tax to fund projects that have historically been approved by the community, including drainage, capital and street improvements. Additionally, the one percent (1.0%) sales tax will provide bond coverage for projects proposed to be undertaken and noted in Proposition “B” and covering some operational expenses in the city aquatics facilities. A vote for this proposition will allow the tax to be implemented beginning April 1, 2017, and to run for 10 years. The 10 year sunset is necessary to ensure the aforementioned bond coverage.
Proposition “B” asks voters to reauthorize the one-half percent (0.5%) sales tax rate to provide funding for two special projects presently proposed and under consideration in the community: a new library/cultural arts facility and police and fire facilities. Preliminary planning activities are currently underway for these projects but no construction would be initiated unless the proposition is approved. A vote for this proposition will allow the tax to be implemented beginning January 1, 2017, and run until the bonds to finance either, or both of these projects have been retired. Passage of Proposition “A” is necessary for Proposition “B” to become effective.
If Proposition “A” and Proposition “B” are not approved by the voters, the current sales tax would be terminated and collections will cease. The city would be required, as by statute, to wait 23 months before the voters could be asked again to consider voting for a sales tax.
The city is presently working to advance the potential projects to be funded by Proposition “B” into a “right size, right cost” for Columbus and consideration by the voters. Work needs to continue toward this end and when completed, the Columbus voters will once again be asked to express their support or opposition for each project in the form of a ballot question on the issuance of bonds for the cost of construction. Votes on each project will be independent of one another and would include information as to the specifics of each project and the estimated public costs. If those bonds are not approved by Columbus voters, work on the projects would cease.
A follow up article will be presented next week, discussing the specifics of the projects mentioned in the Proposition “B”.