Upper Arlington City Council approved a new, temporary standing finance committee Monday night to increase financial performance oversight, in coordination with an effort by city manager Virginia Barney to enhance management performance measures.

Upper Arlington City Council approved a new, temporary standing finance committee Monday night to increase financial performance oversight, in coordination with an effort by city manager Virginia Barney to enhance management performance measures.

"This is really an excellent opportunity for council to scope beyond the basic numbers in our budget to review some aspects of our city government in depth as far as functionality, but without getting too involved (in management)," said council member Erik Yassenoff.

"As we all know in these meetings, with seven of us up here, it's difficult to do a strong review," he said. "I think this committee will give us a great opportunity to go further than just a general review of the budget."

Council member Wade Steen, who was named chairman of the new committee, said the current process is sound, but that performance measurement is a good approach to take.

"I have sat through two budget cycles now, and I see the opportunity to improve our budget process," Steen said. "It's good, but it could be better."

Council member Ed Seidel asked how the scope of the committee's work would be determined.

"Since this is a finance committee, it leads me to believe that that means they would be overlooking financial matters and financial performance measures," he said. "Is that substantially correct or are there other measures that you would overlook as well?"

Steen said the goal was to complement other management performance measures.

"The city is already looking at performance measures, but the performance measures the city administrator may want to manage might be different measures than one of us would want to use to make a decision as a member of council," Steen said.

Yassenoff said his take was a bit different.

"Response time for EMS would be a financial performance measure, as an example," Yassenoff said. "If they are not responding quickly enough, then maybe they need a reallocation of funds, a financial decision that affects response time."

Seidel said it would be hard to distinguish any city function from financial matters.

"Everything we do takes money," he said. "To improve anything, to measure how well we are or are not doing, and to relate that to dollars -- that seems to be a pretty broad charge, maybe a lot more than what you really want to get into."

City attorney Jeanine Hummer said the proposal was intended to complement, not substitute for, other performance measures.

"The finance committee did not want to create a measurement system," she said. "They are aware that the city manager is already in the process of a performance measurement system. What they wanted was if there is a financial component, the finance committee would like to be able to discuss that.

"Secondly they want to have some oversight as the city manager brings that in to the finance committee, to see that there is some financial component," Hummer said. "That is part of what the city manager has been working and the finance director."

Council unanimously approved the new committee, and council president Frank Ciotola appointed Steen chairman and Yassenoff and council member David DeCapua as members.

Seidel said any questions about breadth of the mission would work out in practice. "I think the narrowing or widening may occur as a natural process once you get into it and see what's involved," he said. "I think it's an innovative effort for us."