City tackles parking problems


Are you tired of searching for a parking space downtown? Sick of circling blocks for the sacred spot? So is most of Columbus.

At their July 30 regular meeting, Columbus City Council approved the creation of an enterprise fund for the construction and maintenance of two downtown parking garages.

Columbus has initiated plans to building the garages with a total of 1,400 spaces, that will replace surface lot spaces being lost through other development efforts.

Auditor Hugh Dorrian explained that the enterprise fund, which will collect money from a Tax Increment Financing district near Easton, is being created to keep the projects from draining the general fund or the capital improvements budget.

Columbus created its first TIF district, which generates revenue for public improvements, in 1996. The effort was so successful that it was expanded in 2003 to include “remote districts” so that funds from one area can be used for improvements in another location, according to Dorrian.

TIF funds from the Tuttle Mall are used for the Spring-Sandusky interchange, and up to $5 million collected from the Easton district will be used for the parking garages, the auditor said.

About $2 million has already been spent on design and architectural fees, leaving $3 million available.

While he could offer no concrete guarantees, Dorrian said he was comfortable that the garages could be built with the TIF funds and without hurting the general fund, for city operations or capital improvements fund, for equipment purchases and major projects.

The garages will also be supported through assessments and impact fees on property owners, as well as parking fees, Dorrian added.

Development Director Boyce Safford said he has received a “positive response” from the business owners who will be paying the assessments.


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