The voter-approved one percent (1%) local option sales tax in Columbus was first approved in 1994.
This approval has provided funds for a variety of projects/improvements and purchases that would otherwise not have been possible if the city had to solely rely on property taxes and user fees.The first sales tax approved by Columbus voters was a one percent (1%) tax on purchases made in Columbus retail establishments and was for capital equipment, drainage and street improvements. That one percent (1%) has been reauthorized by Columbus voters in 1998, 2002, 2006, and in 2010. Each vote allowed for projects/improvements in the community.
Among the projects completed with the funds generated by this sales tax are:
Drainage improvements $15 million
Playground equipment $4.7 million
33rd Avenue viaduct $2.3 million
Library materials $1.7 million
Fire Department vehicles $3.5 million
Police Department vehicles $1.7 million
Street Department vehicles $3.5 million
Lost Creek Parkway $4.5 million
City technology upgrades $1 million
Street rehabilitation $7.4 million
In addition, the 2010 vote provided funds for economic development projects creating jobs in the community and more than $2 million has been spent.
In 2000, the voters approved the imposition of an additional one-half percent (0.5%) tax for improvements to Memorial Stadium and in 2005 approved bonds for construction of the Pawnee Plunge Waterpark. That project was paid off in 2011 and the voters reauthorized the tax in 2010 for expansion of the Plunge and to reconstruct the running track and to place field turf at Memorial Stadium in Pawnee Park. The combined project costs are $12 million.
As evidenced by continuous approvals of the sales tax, the public has appeared to support the decisions of the elected officials in bringing these projects forward for their consideration. Similar projects/improvements are anticipated to be needed in the future.
Since 2010, the sales tax amount has totaled one and one half percent (1.5%). The public will have an opportunity, again on May 10, to help determine the direction the community takes in the next ten years. Both the current one percent (1%) and the one-half percent (0.5%) sales tax authorizations will expire later this year. The May 10 ballot will include two propositions to reauthorize the imposition of the current tax rates for similar future projects.
A vote in favor of the reauthorization of the one percent (1%) and one-half percent (0.5%) sales tax is not a vote for a new tax increase but a vote for continuation of the currently imposed tax. Columbus voters should carefully consider for themselves the value of the projects completed to date and determine if wise choices were made to advance the community and whether future similar choices may be necessary for use of funds generated by the sales tax.