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Columbus Leaders Propose Borrowing $1 Billion For City Projects

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther
Jay LaPrete
Associated Press
Mayor Andrew Ginther

Columbus officials are planning to place a $1 billion bond issue on the May ballot.  

Most of the new borrowing will go to public services, like road resurfacing or garbage collection. Mayor Andrew Ginther also promised a new real-time crime center to help crunch data for first responders, as well as significant investments in parks and utilities.

Ginther says affordable housing is one of the region's biggest challenges, and the proposal earmarks $50 million for the effort.

“This is kind of the first installment. We know that $50 million is not going to take care of the affordability challenge and crisis in Central Ohio,” Ginther says. “But I thought it was important that the city made an initial commitment—a down payment.” 

City Auditor Megan Kilgore explains local income tax revenue would pay for the new debt.

“The types of projects the mayor was mentioning whether that be affordable housing, recreation and park facilities, filling potholes, things like that—those bonds are paid for using income tax,” Kilgore says.

The city will hold a series of public hearings on the proposal starting Wednesday evening at the Linden Recreation Center.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the proposed borrowing would be greater than the entire 2019 Columbus budget. The proposal is more than the 2019 operating budget, but when the city's capital spending is included, the Columbus 2019 budget is almost $2 billion.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.