Columbus council OKs $735.7 million capital budget

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April 1, 2014

The Columbus City Council approved $735.7 million last night to build a city office building and a fire station, resurface an “unprecedented” number of streets and provide more or better parks, pools and greenway trails.

The 2014 capital-improvements budget is supported mainly by $275 million borrowed to finance the projects and $460 million in existing revenue and a variety of other sources, including federal and state funds.

“This budget is leveraging dollars to serve our communities,” said Priscilla Tyson, chairwoman of the council’s finance committee.

The most-expensive item on the list of projects is a $57.3 million office building north of City Hall. An existing building is to be replaced with an eight-story, 135,000-square-foot building to house city departments. An additional $5 million will pay to replace the Fulton Avenue fire station.

In addition, $33 million will go toward what Tyson called an “ unprecedented investment” in street resurfacing. Also, $42.6 million is budgeted for recreation projects such as finishing the Alum Creek and Camp Chase greenway trails, and work on pools and playgrounds.

The budget also includes $7.3 million worth of projects that council members added to Mayor Michael B. Coleman’s original plan. Part of that money is $500,000 for six more snowplows, added to the 19 that Coleman proposed be bought.

Also last night, the council authorized spending $1.8 million to bolster the city’ salt supply after the long winter.

Much of the capital-improvements budget is paid for with bond revenue that is paid off with a quarter of receipts from the city’s 2.5 percent income tax or utility charges for water, sewer and electricity projects.

The Democratic-controlled council tabled without comment a resolution expressing disapproval of the state legislature and Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted because of new election rules that council members contend will limit voter participation.

The council also approved tax credits and abatements, including:

• A tax credit of 65 percent for six years for the architecture and design firm NBBJ on the Northwest Side, for a proposed investment of $2 million and the creation of 16 new full-time permanent positions.

• A tax abatement of 75 percent for 10 years for the tool and chemical-supply firm Kimball Midwest on the Far West Side for the proposed investment of about $7.8 million in construction, the retention of 307 full-time permanent positions and the creation of 60 new jobs.

• A tax abatement of 50 percent for 15 years for Fireproof Partners on the Far West Side on real-property improvements and acquisition for a proposed total investment of about $11.3 million.

erinehart@dispatch.com