(Columbus)–Columbus City Councilmembers are proposing more than $6.6-million in amendments to the Mayor’s proposed 2012 Capital Improvements Budget (CIB). Additions to the spending plan will help meet core goals by strengthening neighborhood and safety services by leveraging capital dollars to create economic development opportunities and jobs in Columbus. The amendments will mean City Council will be investing $17.3-million on various Council initiated neighborhood projects this year.

“The Capital Budget reflects the needs of our community, and Council’s continued focus on strengthening neighborhoods,” said Council President Andrew J. Ginther. “We listened to the citizens of Columbus and we are putting their capital dollars to work by continuing to protect our residents and promoting an environment where Columbus families and businesses can thrive.”

Nearly half the amendment amount, $3-million, will be invested in City Council’s new Strategic Neighborhood Safety Facilities Fund, a line-item that will allow City Council to support a wide variety of safety related programs and services that will continue to have a positive impact on our community.

“This new safety fund will allow Columbus City Council the flexibility of leveraging capital dollars to support future public safety infrastructure needs by ensuring ongoing support for key safety strategies funded through the capital and general fund budgets,” said Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson.

Safety Committee Chair Michelle M. Mills is also setting aside $300,000 to make improvements to various Columbus fire stations. The Division has 32 stations where men and women work 24 hour shifts. Of those 32 stations, 14 were built in the 1950s or 1960s and another 10 were built in the 1970s and 1980s. The additional dollars in the Capital Budget will allow the City to update these important facilities and make needed repairs.

Many of the amendments are a direct result of conversations which occurred with residents during various council initiated  community meetings that were held around Columbus over the last year. The most common concern Councilmembers heard when meeting with residents was vacant and abandoned structures. City Council is supportive of Mayor Coleman’s plan to spend more than $11-million this year to fight blight in neighborhoods and is adding an additional $1-million to the Capital Budget to help transform vacant and abandoned structures in Columbus with three new innovative programs:

• Council President Ginther and CouncilmemberZach M. Klein are setting aside $250,000 for the demolition of commercial and non-  residential properties in the Land Bank;
• Councilmember Klein is creating the Land Bank Renovation Fund to allow the City to quickly identify and renovate and put into productive use Land Bank properties as market rate rental housing; and
• Councilmember Hearcel F. Craig is proposing the City use $250,000 to repair Land Bank properties which can be transferred to eligible veterans for home ownership opportunities.
City Council will also be using the CIB as an economic development tool, aiding in the revitalization of key business districts. Council President Ginther is sponsoring a $225,000 amendment that will allow the City to design streetscape improvements in targeted commercial corridors in Columbus. The amendment will complement previous infrastructure investments, and improve the existing commercial environment in an effort to promote business expansion and relocation to create jobs.

The City of Columbus has a number of street lighting projects in the Capital Budget, some of which will help meet critical needs in neighborhoods. The Department of Public Utilities has seven emergency projects in Fiscal Year 2012/13 but only enough funding to complete two. A $500,000 amendment from Councilmember Eileen Y. Paley will ensure the remaining five projects will be completed. Councilmember Paley is also sponsoring an amendment that will invest $500,000 to help build ADA accessible ramps in neighborhoods to improve the mobility and accessibility of our community.

Columbus City Council remains committed to creating an open and transparent legislative process. This spirit of openness has led President Pro Tem A. Troy Miller to start the eCouncil initiative, a series of investments in new technologies, including hardware and software which has made City Council more efficient and will save taxpayer dollars. During the past year, Council has launched an enhanced legislative website that allows residents to read and review current and archived pieces of legislation. A $50,000 capital budget amendment will allow the City to continue to construct a website which will offer video on-demand for those who want to view Council meetings at their leisure.

City Council will hold a hold a public hearing on the proposed 2012 Capital Budget Amendments on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. Speaker slips will be accepted and the meeting will be broadcast live on CTV, Columbus’ government television channel on local cable systems.

For More Information:
John Ivanic, (614) 645-6798