Bicentennial bond package revealed

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Finally, after months of townhall meetings, planning sessions, pomp and circumstance, Mayor Michael Coleman and his staff have revealed the bond issues that will appear as the Voted Bicentennial Bond Package on the November ballot.

However you view the mayor's grand plans for the city's 200th anniversary in 2012 -- which this plan seeks to fund in part -- this is an ambitious undertaking. Not sure what to think of how extensive input from citizens was embodied in the various bonds. Look for full analysis Thursday, June 26, in the Vote Yourself column.

Full release from the mayor's office after the jump...

Mayor, City Auditor, City Council Join Residents and Neighborhood Leaders to Unveil $1.66 Billion 2008 Voted Bond Package

This November, voters can support a plan to drive new investment into neighborhoods and to create thousands of new jobs in construction and in growing private industries. Today, Mayor Michael B. Coleman, City Auditor Hugh J. Dorrian, City Council President Michael C. Mentel and President Pro-Tem Kevin L. Boyce joined residents and neighborhood leaders to unveil the $1.66 billion, 6-issue, 2008 Voted Bond Package that will be on the November 4 ballot.

“This is a sound investment that strengthens neighborhoods and creates jobs,” said Mayor Coleman. “Voter approval of these six issues will allow us to stimulate our economy and bring our city’s infrastructure to a whole new level—while saving more than $28 million.”

Voter approval allows the city to borrow money through the sale of City bonds to finance large capital projects over an extended period of time, similar to a citizen’s purchase of a home. The City of Columbus is the only large city in the United States that has a AAA Bond Rating from all three major bond rating agencies, which combined with voter approval, allows the City to finance more projects with less dollars and no new taxes. With voter approval, more than $28 million will be saved allowing the City to do more neighborhood projects but will only complete projects that the city can afford.

“This is another opportunity for Columbus to achieve major savings in our capital improvement efforts,” said Auditor Dorrian. “Columbus voters have been very supportive of these efforts for the past fifty years and I encourage all of our citizens to take advantage of these savings again by voting in favor of these bond issues.”

$1.1 billion of the bond package will be invested in public utilities projects to protect Central Ohio’s drinking water supply, while cleaning up local rivers and streams and to put the City into compliance with consent orders signed with the State of Ohio that mandate improvements to reduce sanitary sewer overflows and combined sewer overflows. In addition, the City will invest approximately $432 million in key neighborhood projects such as: new sidewalks, road resurfacing, new and existing fire stations, new health centers, and new and existing recreation centers. An additional $124 million of the bond package will leverage private sector investment of $702 million and create new jobs in key job centers including: Children’s Hospital, Techneglas, the Airport Economic Development District and the Kinnear Road Technology Campus.

“This bond package will allow Columbus to responsibly plan for growth, create jobs and improve neighborhoods,” said Council President Mentel. “Our residents will see real results when they support these initiatives.”

The City’s last Voted Bond Package was in 2004, and allowed for many neighborhood investments including, new fire stations, miles of new sidewalks near schools, new construction of sewers to prevent neighborhood flooding prevention and many other neighborhood projects.

“In tough economic times it becomes even more critical to strengthen and maintain our basic infrastructure,” said President Pro-Tem Boyce. “With voter approved bond capacity, we can protect and improve our infrastructure at the lowest possible cost to the tax payers.”

An analysis performed by the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce estimates this bond package will support an average of 5,500 jobs within the region each year over the next five years and generate $3 billion for the local economy. For every $100 million invested by the City, $181 million is generated for the local economy.

The six issues that will appear on the ballot are: Safety and Health ($86.1 million), Streets and Highways ($345.6 million), Water ($524.7 million), Refuse Collection ($32.2 million), Sanitary Sewers ($551.9 million), Recreation and Parks ($124.2 million).