I have said it many times that the best part of being Mayor of Columbus is when I get to participate in some really special events.
I was able to do just this when I was asked to give the opening remarks at the recent Naturalization Ceremony that was held at Central Community College-Columbus. It was truly a humbling experience to welcome these individuals as new citizens to our country. These 14 individuals ranged in age, both male and female, and came from all over the world. They came from Mexico, Guatemala, Iraq, Libya, the Philippines, Nigeria, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. And they all had a common goal- become a U.S. citizen.
To see individuals work so hard to achieve this goal is something to behold. I believe most of us take our citizenship for granted. We are born with it. On the other hand these 14 individuals, and many more like them, worked hard to achieve this goal. They recognize the freedoms that we have, the quality of life that only America offers. As I mentioned earlier, I was humbled to be a small part of such an awesome day for these new citizens.
All of this took place during “Welcoming Week.” A week of celebration coordinated by Centro Hispano. This was a week consisting of events that were organized in an effort to bring people together and make them feel welcome. It included events and gatherings with city officials and continued with social events of many kind. All highlighting the diversity of our community and the need to welcome all.
Our community continues to grow and this growth is fueled by immigrants from numerous countries. We must constantly work to welcome our new residents and make them feel like this is their home too. With our growing diversity comes challenges, but I believe that Columbus is a “Welcoming Community.” And this will continue to drive our growth as we move forward. A special thanks to Centro Hispano for helping to lead this charge.
City Staff and your City Council finalized the City budget for fiscal year 2023-24 (our fiscal year runs from Oct. 1, 2023 through Sept. 30, 2024). This year’s budget is $89,958,549 which includes receipts of $84,373,169 and includes $6,701,493 of property tax dollars. For comparison last year’s budget was $126,562,743. Also by comparison last year’s budget include $43,118,206 in capital items while this years budget includes just $22,536,053 in capital items.
This budget includes over $4.87 million in discretionary spending funds to address various needs. These range from projects to continuing to develop our downtown, possible viaducts, possible splash pad, help with housing, turf on ballfields, park items, and much more. BUT it must be noted that none of these items move forward without multiple public hearings and public input.
This budget was prepared and approved by dropping the levy rate from .315186 per $100 of assessed valuation to .292617. This drop is .0226 lower than last year. For this year the City’s share of tax on a $100,000 house will go from $315.19 and drop to $292.62. And although valuations increased the City did it’s best to minimize the tax impact while recognizing our City’s growth.
This budget represents the things that we expect to happen in our upcoming fiscal year. This budget covers our 192 full-time employees along with numerous part time and seasonal employees. This budget allows for the continued growth of our community while maintaining the vital services that our citizens expect. Police, Fire, E-911, Library, street maintenance, snow removal, water and waste water services, parks and rec and so much more.
And we provide all of these services that are expected in a very efficient manner. When comparing how Columbus operates to other communities it becomes evident. The Columbus levy of .292617 is among the lowest of all major communities, not just our sister cities. And our 192 full time employees provide the city service in a ratio of employees to population that beats all of our sister cities. I have said it before-we are fortunate to have our dedicated workforce serving the citizens of Columbus.
Let me put the impact of your property taxes into perspective. Your entire City budget for 2023-24 is $89.9 million, and with our levy, we are asking for $6.7 million in property tax money. Your property tax dollars that go to the City represents 7.5% of our entire City budget.
I want to thank Staff and Council for the hard work and effort that went into finalizing this year’s budget. It is no small task and very few appreciate it. There were a lot of meetings, much discussion, and much give and take. And this process lives-it is ongoing. What I mean by this-the budget is a blueprint. It is put together to guide us. But each and every item within this budget come before the City Council for FINAL approval. That is correct, nothing is rubber stamped. Your Staff and Council value your dollars, spend wisely, and are open and transparent.
Much activity continues around town. A lot of things are happening downtown. Viaduct discussions, the DBID (Downtown Business Improvement District) Board looking at various concepts, constant work at trying to revitalize and develop the area. The community received a great presentation at a Committee of the Whole on Sept. 18th in regards to The Master Plan for Pawnee Park and Gerrard Park. I’ll follow up with more on this in later articles.
The 23rd Street reconstruction continues (as if I had to tell you). The contractor is on schedule and seeing completion of this phase (Phase 1) in late fall. With that being said the traffics would resume to “normal” though the winter until spring construction begins on Phase 2.
I cannot thank all of you for your patience as we work though this construction. And more importantly, thank you for how you have tried to support those businesses directly impacted by this work. Your efforts mean a lot to all of those business. Again, thank you and keep it up.
Something Good Columbus!
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