‘Sticker Shock:’ Residents weary of taking on debt


By Andrea Chaffin - achaffin@civitasmedia.com



Plain City leaders were peppered with questions regarding the village’s plan to borrow up to $4.5 million to tackle capital improvement projects during Monday’s council meeting.

The proposed plan is to make the loan payments using money collected by the village’s half-percent income tax, which was passed by residents last year.

Most of the money will be spent on repairs and upgrades related to the village’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Other projects include renovating the youth building and restrooms at Pastime Park, purchasing vehicles, replacing water meters, starting a street paving program to address every road over a span of 20 years, and repairing curbs and gutters on Carriage Drive.

About $1 million is expected to be spent on renovating the administration office to consolidate all village offices — including the police department.

Residents Christy Syfert and Michele Ferguson complained of “sticker shock.” Ferguson said residents would not have passed the levy if they had known the money would be used to leverage debt.

Ferguson said the village shouldn’t be taking on debt. Instead, it’s smarter to pay for projects as the village can afford them.

Council member John Rucker defended the decision, comparing the loan to a homeowner leveraging a paycheck for a home mortgage. If the village were to only spend each year what it brings in with the income tax, it would be impossible to complete any projects, he said.

Dublin, Upper Arlington and other municipalities are making similar moves, Rucker added.

“This is how government works,” he said.

Jason Shumway, who recently purchased two downtown buildings, voiced his support with taking out the loans. He said the investment will make the village much more attractive for businesses. Shumway is currently working to remodel the Plain City Pub into Tavern 161.

Following the discussion, council members approved a second reading on the legislation.

• The public hearing to approve the M/I homes subdivision, Darby Fields, has been scheduled for the next meeting, March 13. The village has been in negotiation with the developer on how to address potential traffic issues at the intersection of Converse-Huff and Plain City-Georgesville roads.

• Councilman Nick Kennedy again voiced his frustration with the two committees he leads as chair: parks and board of zoning appeals (BZA). Kennedy is irritated variances are so commonly approved in BZA, and wants to see BZA members “educated” or “start over.”

Village attorney Paul-Michael Lafayette chalked up the challenges to “growing pains.” Sometimes members need to be reminded of the impact of their decisions, he added.

Regarding parks, Kennedy asked council to commit to giving the park more so he doesn’t “waste” his time. Council member Leslie Perkins encouraged him to narrow down the list of projects.

• Resident Jodie Carney introduced herself to council. She said she is considering running for council.

• Fiscal officer Renee Sonnett announced the village has a new e-billing system in place, allowing residents to receive their water bills via email. It will save postage costs.

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By Andrea Chaffin

achaffin@civitasmedia.com

Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.

Reach Andrea Chaffin at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619, and on Twitter @AndeeWrites.

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