Some Delaware residents are leading a campaign to support the city’s proposal to update its transportation system by raising the city’s income tax rate.
The “Better Roads for Delaware” group on July 31 announced its formation as a political action committee to support the city’s “Moving Delaware Forward” initiative, which requires an increase by voters of the local income tax rate from 1.85 percent to 2 percent.
The rate increase would generate an additional $2.2 million annually that would be used for road maintenance, resurfacing and transportation improvements. Major projects include establishing a four-lane capacity at The Point with pedestrian access; providing a direct connection to Troy Road for west and north side residents with the Merrick Boulevard extension; linking William Street and Central Avenue with the Valleyside Drive extension; and improving traffic signaling technology.
City Council unanimously agreed to place the rate increase on the ballot at its meeting in July. Voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to approve the tax rate increase on Nov. 8.
“The city has done beautiful job of putting a plan” together, Stephanie Steinbeck of Delaware said.
Steinbeck, along with Delaware resident Jim Browning, are co-chairing the committee. Subcommittee leaders include Nicole Fowles (public relations), Harry Hart (“Get Out the Vote”) and Bill Morgan (fundraising).
A chairman or chairwoman for volunteer recruitment and coordination is still being sought.
The PAC is now focusing on recruiting about 50 to 100 volunteers with the PAC planning to go into campaign mode in mid-September, Steinbeck said.
“It’s very grass roots,” she said.
The PAC will look to raise $12,000 to $15,000 to handle costs for mailing, yard signs and advertisements, Browning said.
Fowles added that the PAC has a website, Facebook and Twitter accounts to “meet people where they are.” Volunteers will be utilized in their preferred capacities, she said.
Steinbeck said conversations with residents throughout city seem to indicate a favorable consensus to the ballot measure as traffic congestion and some poor road conditions are evident. She said they haven’t heard or are aware of any group forming to oppose the tax increase.
The city cannot advocate or campaign for the ballot issue, which was a reason to start the PAC, Steinbeck said.
Ohio law prohibits the city from using public funds to support or oppose a levy but may distribute factual information about the impact of the levy, as long as the information is unbiased and does not encourage support, said Lee Yoakum, community affairs coordinator for the city.
“We can provide them information as we would with anyone,” he said.
City employees have First Amendment rights to participate in the electoral process, but outside of work time and work resources, he said, and council members can be involved with the campaign as public officials but not while using city resources.
Individuals interested in joining the campaign effort may contact Browning and Steinbeck at [email protected].
“If they like driving on the roads, they should vote ‘yes,’” Browning said. “It’s that simple.”
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.