City of Gahanna

200 South Hamilton
Gahanna, OH 43230

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Gahanna's New Mayor Looks to Improve Community Engagement, Bolster Economy

Original story by Marla K. Kuhlman, ThisWeek Community News

Newly elected Gahanna Mayor Tom Kneeland pointed to three key areas he wants to improve this year: economic growth and business development, resident engagement and transparency, and improving efficiency and reducing costs.

"We will be making a few changes to strengthen our development efforts and better position our resources to create more jobs, attract new businesses and retain existing companies in Gahanna," he said. "Our building and zoning divisions will be reassigned to the service department, followed by a physical move of these divisions, during the first quarter of the year."

Kneeland said the realignment would allow the city's economic-development team to increase community and business engagement while ensuring zoning and building inspection functions are maintained at a high level of customer service and technical expertise.

"A second priority will be to create the area commissions I discussed during my campaign," Kneeland said. "Each of the four commissions will be aligned with each of the four wards in Gahanna."

The new commissions will comprise local residents and business owners in those respective areas, appointed by the mayor, he said.

"I encourage people to start considering becoming involved in this valuable program as we will begin the applications in January," Kneeland said. "Area commission input and engagement will be vital as projects are brought forward by developers to the city administration, the planning commission and City Council for consideration. Though we often encourage developers to reach out to neighbors during the hearing process, this change creates a specific structure for doing so, which will increase resident engagement and get them involved at the very beginning of the process."

He said another priority of his administration would be to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

"A first step will be strengthening our relationships with the school district and the townships that represent the Gahanna community," Kneeland said. "Understanding the strategic and financial goals of our community partners will allow us to more effectively plan and potentially collaborate on future projects and initiatives.

"This collaboration and communication can benefit our community by improving efficiency and reduce costs."

He said another component is through shared services.

Kneeland said he would meet with community partners in Gahanna, neighboring cities and townships to discuss a number of opportunities to take advantage of that model.

"Shared services would enable us to provide the highest quality of service to our communities while reducing the costs to taxpayers," he said.

Jefferson Township begins

road repairs

In Jefferson Township, trustee Mike Rowan said the top priorities would be road maintenance and repairs; transparency and communication; customer service; and completion of the comprehensive-plan update.

Rowan said revenues from November's 2.8-mill road levy should start coming in 2016.

"We want to put that money to work right away," he said. "We need to finalize our road priorities and make sure we have the staff and equipment that we need to get the work done. We also will look for grants and collaboration opportunities to maximize the impact of the money we spend."

Rowan said the township also would continue to try to improve the partnership with residents by making sure they know what's going on and why.

All of the township's revenues and expenses are listed online at ohiocheckbook.com.

Residents can also find updates through facebook, e-newsletters and the township website, jeffersontownship.org.

"We realize that we work for our citizens, and we are here to provide services to our community," he said. "Our goal is to make Jefferson Township an exceptional place to live and work."

The township began updating its comprehensive plan in 2014. Community meetings were held to address sustainability, infrastructure (roads, parks and trails) and public safety (fire, EMS and law enforcement).

"The comprehensive-plan update helps us identify township strengths and weaknesses and establish priorities and goals for our community," Rowan said. "The trustees use the comprehensive plan to make decisions about land use, zoning and service needs for the township now and in the future."