City to ask voters for $1.5 billion bond package

The city of Columbus will ask voters to approve a $1.5 billion voted bond package this fall to finance capital improvements in neighborhoods across the city. Mayor Andrew Ginther advanced resolutions of necessity to Columbus City Council, which is the first step in placing the issues on the November ballot. The issues will not increase taxes for Columbus residents.

The breakdown of the proposed bond package is as follows:
•Health, safety and infrastructure – $300 million
•Recreation and Parks – $200 million
•Neighborhood development (housing) – $200 million
•Public service – $250 million
•Public Utilities – $550 million

Building off the success of the 2019 bond package, the city will commit $200 million from the bond package to increase the supply of affordable housing in Columbus.

“Affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing our region today,” said Ginther. “Access to safe, affordable housing is critical to a thriving, equitable economy, and no resident should pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income to live in a neighborhood of their choice.”

In 2019, Columbus voters approved a $50 million affordable housing bond package that leveraged more than $300 million in public and private funding to build more than 1,300 units at a rate faster than the market could provide. Funds from the 2019 bond package have since been fully allocated, and additional investments are needed to keep up with the region’s considerable population growth – a trend that is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Examples of projects funded through prior bond packages include more than $87 million over three years to resurface more than 700 streets. Past efforts also financed police and fire facilities and equipment, new recreation centers, parks and pools, and water and sewer infrastructure that ensure access to safe, clean drinking water.

Columbus City Auditor Megan Kilgore emphasized that a bond package is not a tax increase, but leverages the city’s Triple A bond rating to say taxpayer dollars.

“A voted bond package means that the city is asking voters to support the issuance of general obligation bonds to finance our traditional capital improvements,” said Kilgore. “Voter approved bond packages lower the cost of borrowing, and have saved the city tens of millions of dollars in recent years.”

City Council President Shannon Hardin said the bond provides the city with necessary funds to strengthen neighborhoods.

“A city that doesn’t invest in itself and its neighborhoods falls behind,” said Hardin. “This bond package will keep Columbus neighborhoods strong, moving us closer to a community where everyone has opportunity.”

The package will be voted on by Columbus residents in the general election on Nov. 8.

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