Rocky Fork Enterprise

Residents invited to help guide city's financial future

Nov. 20 public forum slated to allow input on 2013 appropriations

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Gahanna residents will have a say in how the city spends taxpayer dollars next year.

The city has scheduled a public forum for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Gahanna City Council was scheduled to hear city directors present appropriations for their respective departments during a committee meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13, after ThisWeek's press deadline.

In a written introduction of the 301-page appropriations document, Mayor Becky Stinchcomb said Gahanna is at a pivotal juncture.

"Although Gahanna has continued to make cuts and reductions as needed to operate with the resources currently available, there is a price that is being paid for putting off short-term expenses and investments," she wrote. "Revenue trends in the general fund are troubling. While it does appear the economy may be stabilizing to some degree, we know that it is doing so at a much slower rate than we have (experienced) in the past."

Stinchcomb said the city would see a permanent $3 million reduction in revenues as a result of state funding cuts.

"This comes at a time when our costs are rising, both because of market forces and expenses such as energy and maintenance costs," she said. "To offset rising costs, we have deferred equipment replacement, capital maintenance and capital improvements for more than three years."

Through conservative fiscal management, Stinchcomb said, the city has maintained a strong fund balance, with revenues exceeding the mandatory 25 percent by nearly $8 million.

She said it's appropriate to use a portion of those funds as a resource of funding while the city continues to develop a long-term strategy for bridging the gap between revenues and costs.

"Challenges and tough decisions lay ahead of us," Stinchcomb said. "But I remain confident that through open discourse, continued transparent accounting and dedicated professionalism, we will continue to serve the citizens of Gahanna to the level of service which is expected of us."

City Council President Brian Larick said he hopes to see many residents at next week's public forum. He said speakers would be organized by the council clerk.

Each resident will be given four minutes to deliver his or her message.

Larick said groups would be most effective in presenting their message by selecting a speaker to represent the group at the podium while the others are recognized at their seats.

Council members also will be given one opportunity to speak during the forum.

Council will have an opportunity to discuss details of the appropriations and any adjustments at a Nov. 26 committee-of-the-whole meeting. That discussion will continue Dec. 10 if necessary.

A council vote on the appropriations is scheduled for the Jan. 2, 2013, city council meeting.

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