Two probable fall ballot issues made their debut before Delaware City Council on Monday.
Of particular interest to voters is a potential city income tax rate increase to fund road improvement projects like The Point.
In recent months, officials have held a series of “Moving Delaware Forward” meetings regarding the city’s transportation plans. Council member Joe DiGenova said he attended recent Moving Delaware Forward meetings at a Delaware school board meeting, Willow Brook, Stratford Woods and SourcePoint. He said many residents were at the meetings.
At the meetings, city officials talked about projects, such as making The Point four lanes under a new railroad bridge; extending Merrick Boulevard to provide a direct connection to Troy Road; and extending Valleyside Drive to link William Street and Central Avenue.
To do these projects, the city said it would need voters to increase the current 1.85 percent income tax rate to 2 percent.
City documents describe raising the “income tax (rate) by (o.15) percent from the current rate of (1.85) percent to a rate of 2 percent, beginning Jan. 1, 2017, for the purpose of pay the costs of improving and maintaining the transportation and parking system in the city by constructing and reconstructing municipal roads, highways, streets, bridges, sidewalks, bikeways and parking facilities, acquiring real estate and interests in real estate therefor, and paying the debt service charges and related costs of securities issued to pay the costs of those projects.”
There will be two public hearings on the tax proposal — at 8 p.m. June 27 and July 11.
Related to road repairs, council passed a resolution to apply for funding The Point project and traffic signal improvements from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. City engineer Bill Ferrigno said the applications will be submitted later this summer.
The last time the timing and programming of the city’s traffic signals was updated was in 1999. Ferrigno said those operations should be reviewed every two to four years.
The second issue that could appear on the November ballot would be to approve proposed changes to the city’s charter. The charter is the governing document used by the city.
Every eight years, the charter is reviewed and voters decide whether to accept any proposed changes to the document. For the last couple of months, a city-appointed charter review commission, guided by city attorney Darren Shulman, has made its way through the document.
The recommendations of the commission were given in a report to council by chair Mary Jane Santos. “We had homework every time we met, and we went through this in an expeditious manner,” Santos said. “We went through it word by word.”
The proposed changes were made in mind with making the charter easier to read, she said.
Santos said the members felt there should be more wards, but lacked data to propose putting the question before voters. A similar conclusion was reached when it came to electing council members by majority vote. She said there should be studies undertaken on the two concepts.
In answer to a council question, there was no change to the three reading process that council uses on ordinances. Santos said the public should be allowed to continue to hear up to three readings.
Shulman said a lot of minor changes were made to modernize the language, such as changing terms like “journals” to “electronic records.” Santos said there were also grammatical changes, such as changing sentences that began with the word “but.”
There will be two public hearings on the proposed charter amendment — at 7:30 p.m. June 27 and July 11. Council can accept or reject the proposed changes. If council accepts the commission’s recommendation to place the issue before voters, council would submit the amendments to the Delaware County Board of Elections for the November ballot. Shulman said that because there are so many proposed changes, it will be presented as a single ballot issue.
Aug. 10 is the deadline for local issues to appear on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Also at the meeting, Dempsey Middle School’s lacrosse team received a proclamation from Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle for winning the state championship. It was their fourth state title in eight years.
Before the council meeting, the Citizen Academy class had its graduation in council chambers.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.