Columbus City Council last night approved the 807-million-dollar municipal budget for the year.
The largest spending plan in Columbus history calls for the reopening of six recreation centers, maintains police and fire staffing levels and pays for education programs Mayor Michael Coleman will detail later this month. The budget also adds more code-enforcement officers to crack down on landlords whose problem propeties plague low-income neighborhoods. Council also approved a 5.7 million dollar payment to the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation for work on the Scioto Greenways project, part of a plan to remake the Scioto Peninsula. Columbus Recreation and Parks director Alan McKnight says the project involves the removal of the Main Street Dam, as well as park, utility, and bridge improvements along both sides of the river.
Coleman told WCBE last December full funding of the Scioto Peninsula plan has not been obtained. Council also approved a tax break estimated to be worth more than 9 million dollars to Columbus-based Nationwide Insurance. The ten year deal gives the company a 50 percent income tax break on any new jobs created, on top of the more than 77 hundred being retained in the Arena District. The city says Nationwide employs more than 66 hundred people in the area and recently built a 40 million dollar office building on Nationwide Boulevard as part of a consolidation. In 2012, Nationwide moved 14 hundred employees from Dublin into the Downtown Business district. The city of Dublin says the move meant a 1.3 percent loss of income tax revenue, or 900 thousand dollars a year. When that move was announced in July of 2010, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman agreed to drop his opposition to the creation of a tax increment financing district for Nationwide's Grandview Yard development in the West 3rd Avenue area. Coleman opposed the TIF out of fear it would cost his city jobs and tax revenue. He said at the time Nationwide moved the jobs to Columbus without incentive, but acknowledged it was a persuasive factor in getting the TIF, which will be used to fund infrastructure improvements. Columbus development officials estimate this deal will be worth nearly 9.9 million dollars to Nationwide, and will generate nearly 20 million dollars in income tax revenue.