COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus voters will decide on just one ballot issue in next week’s election, but officials say it’s a big one.

Issue 7 states it would direct tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to clean energy and energy efficiency funds.

“The big thing I’m trying to make sure folks understand is that Issue 7 would put the city in a really, really tough position,” said Columbus Councilman Rob Dorans.

There’s a lot of vocal opposition to Issue 7 coming from Columbus City Hall. However, the people who are behind Issue 7, the people who did the work to get it on the ballot in the first place – ProEnergy Ohio — are not saying much. The ballot issue lists seven individuals as petitioners: Christina L. Gonzaga, Tyrone Spence, Udell Hollins, Dolores A. Williams, Irene Gil Llamas, and Jabarisidiki Gregg.

If passed by voters, the initiative would take $10 million to create an Energy Efficiency Fund, $10 million for a Clean Energy Education and Training Fund, $10 million for a Minority Business Enterprise Clean Energy Development Fund, and $57 million for a Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund. The money — $87 million – would come from the city’s general fund.

“This would be nearly a 10 percent reduction in our city’s finances,” Dorans said. “We’d be talking about major reductions in city services, major reductions in our ability to, really, to provide the services that folks have come to count on in our city.”

Dorans said a city clean energy program already exists after being approved by voters last year.

“The ballot initiative makes it sound like this is the best thing since sliced bread,” he said. “It’s a lot of buzz words that a lot of people support around clean energy, minority business development, things the city is already doing in a meaningful way.”

When it comes to where exactly the money would go, there aren’t many details. For two of the funds, the initiative indicates the money would be available through an application process. It states that the largest fund, the $57 million, would be subsidies for electricity customers.

“Most people that have policy initiatives they want to see worked on in the city generally engage with city council, generally engage with the mayor’s office, generally engage with people that want to see the city do better in a lot of these areas and really make our city better for everyone,” Dorans said. “These folks have not done that whatsoever.”

NBC4 has tried to talk to the people behind Issue 7, but has not been able to get in touch with them yet.

The measure, as it appears on the ballot, reads, in full:

  • Establishes an Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Fund, the purpose of which shall be to promote and fund energy conservation and energy efficiency initiatives.
  • Directs the transfer of $10,000,000 from the general fund to the afore-established Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Fund.
  • Establishes a Clean Energy Education and Training Fund, the purpose of which shall be to promote and fund clean energy education and training initiatives.
  • Directs the transfer of $10,000,000 from the general fund to the afore-established Clean Energy Education and Training Fund.
  • Establishes a Minority Business Enterprise Clean Energy Development Fund, the purpose of which shall be to promote, develop, and fund minority clean energy business enterprise.
  • Directs the transfer of $10,000,000 from the general fund to the afore-established Minority Business Enterprise Clean Energy Development Fund.
  • Upon request of the petition committee, requires the transfer of the $10,000,000 balance of the Minority Business Enterprise Clean Energy Development Fund to an entity to be designated by a representative of the majority of petitioners Christina L. Gonzaga, Tyrone Spence, Udell Hollins, Dolores A. Williams, Irene Gil Llamas, and Jabarisidiki Gregg.
  • Requires that the aforementioned entity distribute within one year the $10,000,000 balance of funds transferred to said entity to “verifiable minority-owned businesses” within the city of Columbus and which apply for said funds.
  • Establishes the Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund, the purpose of which shall be to reduce the cost of electricity for Columbus electricity customers via subsidy.
  • Directs the transfer of $57,000,000 from the general fund to the afore-established Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund.
  • Requires the transfer of the $57,000,000 balance of the Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund to an entity to be designated by a representative of the majority of petitioners Christina L. Gonzaga, Tyrone Spence, Udell Hollins, Dolores A. Williams, Irene Gil Llamas, and Jabarisidiki Gregg.
  • Requires that the aforementioned entity distribute within one year the $57,000,000 balance of funds transferred to said entity in the form of subsidies to electricity customers residing in the city of Columbus via application.
  • Directs the Director of the Department of Public Utilities to determine uniform monthly subsidies and to distribute said subsidies, and authorizes an undetermined portion of the balance of the Columbus Clean Energy Partnership Fund to be used for the cost of administering distribution of said subsidies.
  • Directs the City Auditor to publish a Quarterly Transparency and Accountability Report on the uses of funds established via this ordinance.
  • Authorizes the City Auditor to transfer any portion of the balance of the Energy Conservation and Energy Efficiency Fund and/or the Clean Energy Education and Training Fund to any appropriate project account.