Stinchcomb: Capital needs lack funding
Capital needs in Gahanna are seriously underfunded, Mayor Becky Stinchcomb told Gahanna City Council committee members Oct. 15.
Assistant city administrator Brandi Braun provided council last week with an updated five-year capital-needs assessment plan that was launched last year.
"Last year we started the foundation for the capital improvement plan that's best practice for local governments," Braun said. "We started the process of a five-year capital-needs assessment based on our mission and vision. There's not a lot that has changed. There are five projects that are brand new to the plan."
She said capital needs are defined as items that cost at least $5,000 and have a useful life of at least five years.
The city identified priority levels, with priority 1 a must-do, priority 2 a should-do and priority 3 a could-do.
"We're funding one quarter of the needs," Stinchcomb said. "We're underfunding capital needs and deferring things that shouldn't be deferred. We believe we are seriously underfunding and need to take a good look at this."
The five-year revised assessment includes $50.8 million in capital needs, of which is $9.7 million is identified for 2014. The assessment includes $16.5 million ($3.2 million to 3.4 million annually) in ongoing operating capital programs and $34.3 million in needed capital improvements and projects throughout the city.
Because of revenue constraints, the 2014 appropriations request is expected to include $2.5 million in capital funding, or 25 percent of the total needs for the year.
The details of which projects will be funded and at what levels are expected to be included in a future appropriations request.
Braun said a review of the capital-needs assessments sets the stage for appropriations to be discussed during the first committee meeting in November.
"Based upon our revised capital-needs assessment, the city will only be able to fund a fraction of the capital needs identified for next year," Stinchcomb said. "The impact of deferring these projects is cumulative and will not simply disappear on its own. As a result, we will continue to address these concerns as we move forward in the budget planning process."
Included in the revised assessment are $2.4 million in projects that were identified as 2013 needs but weren't funded as a result of limited resources.
Those items include a new front pool and facility improvements; Buckles tract infrastructure development; Claycraft/Morrison improvements; Ohio Herb Education Center garden improvements and irrigation; a new wash bay at the operations complex; a Gahanna canoe launch; and Academy restrooms and concessions.
An additional $600,000 in projects also was deferred as part of the administration's tax budget process in June. Those projects included entryway signs and features; signs and gateways for the office, commerce and technology district; and a Headley soccer field rebuild and irrigation.
New to the assessment are five projects that were identified last year: Agler Road improvement/relocation; crosswalk upgrades; generator transfer switch; Morse Road Columbus project-Hamilton-Trellis; and police facility remodel of locker room/storage.
In addition to providing the revised assessment to council, finance director Jennifer Teal summarized the city's third-quarter finances.
Although general-fund revenue has exceeded expenses through Sept. 30, she said, it's because of a one-time spike in revenue sources and conscious spending reductions by the administration to conserve resources for the future.
The full third-quarter report is available online at Gahanna.gov.