City Panel Weighs Citizen Budget Suggestions.

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About 30 residents showed up, some representing their neighborhood or organization. Eleven spoke with proposals for cutting back city costs. Suggestions included charging fees for trash pickup, a rental car tax and an income tax.

D Searcy, a Clintonville resident, spoke about trash collection. She says if residents could opt into the service as needed, it would lower city costs.

“I’m sure that on my street, I could get 60 percent of the people that would say they didn’t want or they didn’t need their trash picked up on a weekly basis,” she said.

To help close an increasing budget gap, Columbus already plans to close 11 recreation centers. YMCA of Central Ohio President John Bickley says that will create a spillover effect for other service organizations like his. He says more funding cuts will affect children and families.

“What we’re recommending is the combination of a lot of things,” he said. “Look at expenditures, look at ways of generating new revenues, whether it be a tax increase, a fee increase, those kinds of things.”

City Auditor Hugh Dorrian says resident support of fee and tax hikes, like those presented at the forum, creates a tricky situation.

“You might be surprised to know that I’ve actually had telephone calls from citizens and groups saying to me ‘Go ahead and put that tax on the ballot, we’ll support ya,’” he said. “Now I don’t know that that’s going to be a majority, but it’s interesting to me that those sentiments are being expressed.”

The hearing was scheduled to last three hours, but it wrapped up in half the time after everyone had a chance to speak. The economic committee has been talking with other city agencies since June will make its recommendations in March.

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