Rocky Fork Enterprise

2013 appropriations

Anderson: Council must prioritize for Gahanna's long term

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Gahanna City Council is continuing to examine whether the appropriate programs would be funded through the proposed 2013 appropriations.

Discussions are scheduled to continue during council's next committee meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10, with a council vote likely Jan. 2, 2013.

During the Nov. 26 meeting, council member Stephen Renner asked his colleagues if the plan has the right programs and priorities.

Council member Beryl Anderson asked if projects started next year could be carried further.

"Will that be an issue?" she said. "I would hate to put money in something that can't be funded (further). It's important to think it through."

"We're working on that as a group," said Brandi Braun, assistant city administrator.

Renner asked council members if they'd be willing to use $3 million in carryover for next year.

The city has maintained a strong fund balance, with reserves exceeding the mandatory 25 percent by nearly $8 million.

Anderson said she understands $3 million is needed is concerned about what would happen the following year. She said she has voted, hesitantly, in favor of using reserves in the past.

"I'd like to hear more about taking from reserves," she said.

Council member Karen Angelou said she supports the city having more than a 25-percent reserve. She held up a chart from the recent resident-satisfaction survey, showing 68 percent of those surveyed disapprove of raising the city's income-tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Council member Dave Samuel said it would be ludicrous if the city didn't use reserves. He said residents would make the final decision if an income tax increase were proposed.

Angelou said she campaigned for a seat on council, pledging to never support a tax increase.

"Every year, we've brought in more money than we thought," she said. "What happens with the national picture will affect the city of Gahanna."

Council member Brian Larick said he has a much greater understanding of municipal finance than in the past. He said supplemental requests essentially have been drawn freely from a bucket as a result of unforeseen events.

"Anything that comes up, you can determine if that can be planned for again or not," he said.

As a result of the intense work and planning for the 2013 appropriations, Larick said, he would be highly challenged to support a supplemental.

"We shouldn't be surprised because event 'X' occurred in any case," he said.

Anderson said it's great to have a plan. But like a life plan, she said, inevitability you get a curve ball.

"I think there should be some wiggle room," she said. "I'm not sure what it should be."

From Larick's review of the appropriations, he said, money is spent efficiently and effectively.

"I think things in here for 2013 are prudent for a city in a suburban environment for people to enjoy time and recreation and what the community provides," he said.

Larick said he would be OK with spending some of the city's reserve.

"It's not going to force us to do drastic things overnight," he said.

Larick said 2013 is a critical year, and it's important to understand what's appropriate for the community -- what residents want and what the city has to do to make that happen.

Council member Brandon Wright said the public needs to be engaged and that he thinks that's lacking in the process.

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