In November, Pickerington voters will decide whether workers in the city should pay a 2 percent income tax instead of the 1 percent they currently pay.
Most residents commute to work in other municipalities, such as Columbus, and would not pay more to Pickerington if the issue passes in the fall. As they do now, commuters would only pay 0.5 percent to the city.
If the voters do not approve the increase, the city may fall behind on its debts including loans that fund the widening of Diley Road. In addition, improving the police department and maintaining streets will require more money than the city currently has budgeted.
Reading from a written statement at the July 1 Pickerington City Council meeting, Councilman Jeff Fix stated that to be properly staffed, the police department requires six more officers.
Lack of funds postponed the city’s plans to replace the rusty culvert that ran underneath Meadows Boulevard. A recent thunderstorm destroyed the structure, forcing council to pass emergency legislation July 15 to replace it.
Service Director Edward Drobina said the city plans to save money by doing much of the street repair internally, although an outside contractor will be necessary to actually place the new culvert.
Drobina estimates the city will pay more than $120,000 to fix the road including $33,000 just for the new sturdier concrete culvert.
Councilman Michael Sabatino voted against placing the increase on the ballot, stating at the July 1 meeting that the council should consider a lower increase to 1.5 percent instead of 2 percent.
Councilman Brian Sauer also voted against placing the increase on the ballot, stating that Pickerington commuters should not have to pay any tax, even 0.5 percent.
The income generated from raising the tax to 2 percent on only those who work in Pickerington would cover the city’s debt, roads, and police, Sauer said.
Trash and recycling
Council rejected a contract with Waste Management for garbage collection because many residents opposed paying an additional fee of more than $2 a month for mandatory recycling.
The city will seek new bids in which customers may opt to pay extra for recycling, but would not be required to do so.
Pickerington resident Carol Carter said she lived in one of the communities that tested the proposed recycling program.
She found it "real handy" although she "understands everyone has a beef with the price" and "they argue they don’t want to be forced to recycle".
Carter recommended to council that, if they rebid without the mandatory recycling option, that they at least ask for the same service Pickerington receive now.
Waste Management currently sorts the trash at its facility enabling some of it to be recycled.
Councilwoman Tricia Sanders wanted the public to know that by rejecting the current contract, the city had "not given up on recycling" they just required "more information".
Mayor Mitch O’Brien also was optimistic.
"My personal opinion is the number of subscribers for recycling will be quite impressive," O’Brien said. "Many, many people do recycle and maybe more will with curbside service."
Councilman Keith Smith said the overflowing recycling bins cluttering Sycamore Park would soon be moved to near the wastewater treatment facility.