Upper Arlington News

City notes

UA retains top financial ratings from 2 agencies

By THEODORE J. STATON
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January of this year marked the end of a significant source of revenue for the city, with the elimination of the estate tax.

We do anticipate that the city will continue to receive some funds in 2013 as estates from the end of last year are finalized. We know it will be minor compared to previous years, and will reach its conclusion in short order.

While we work to adjust to this latest hit to the city's revenue stream, it's great to get some good news about our local financial picture. For the sixth consecutive year, Moody's Investors Service has rated the city Aaa and Standard & Poor's has reaffirmed the city's AAA status.

While great news once again for UA, the reports back from both agencies identified our vulnerabilities -- the loss of the estate tax, an increased reliance on income tax and limited growth in the city's assessed valuation, etc. -- albeit with the caveat that we have historically been able to meet our financial challenges head-on and are clearly taking the steps necessary to adapt to our new fiscal realities.

The triple-A rating is the highest that can be attained and is considered the gold standard for government entities when selling bonds to finance projects. As a result, our efforts to effectively manage the community's assets can now be further enhanced by our ability to secure exceptionally low interest rates and we plan to take advantage of our reaffirmed rating.

In the near future, we will be issuing approximately $15.5 million of various purpose refunding bonds, with the goal of reducing our interest payments on this existing debt.

To retain top ratings from two of the nation's finest rating agencies is an impressive achievement. We owe this milestone to the strong leadership and vision of both our present-day and previous city councils. They have worked hard to establish exceptional financial policies that help us balance our assets with the provision of cost-effective day-to-day services and long-term reinvestment needs to maintain and enhance our public infrastructure and facilities.

They have also long recognized the importance of diversifying and growing our income tax revenue-generating business base.

I also applaud our Finance and Administrative Services Department. Under the strong leadership of Director Cathe Armstrong, Finance performs its vital organizational functions to the highest standards of integrity and competency.

For additional details of Upper Arlington's financial practices, contact the Finance and Administrative Services Department at 614- 583-5280.

Public meeting

It's time for a report to the community on a study being conducted for the commercial district at Riverside and Fishinger.

Contracted by the Community Improvement Corp. early in the spring, NBBJ has undertaken a market analysis to gauge usage demand for the corridor, as well as developing a series of conceptual plans for how the area could be redeveloped to maximize its potential.

The work of NBBJ will be shared at a Thursday, June 20, public meeting, scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road. I do hope you can join us to take a look at what could be within this busy corridor.

If you have questions, contact Bob Lamb at 614-583-5046 or email him at rlamb@uaoh.net.

Planting delays

I can't sing the praises of our Parks & Forestry Division enough -- its employees do so much to keep Upper Arlington green and beautiful by maintaining our parks, street trees and landscaped entryways.

Unfortunately this year, due to a hiccup with a contractor, street tree maintenance and installation is behind schedule. As a result, we are asking for a little extra help from residents to make sure all newly planted trees receive the TLC they will need during the hot and dry months.

If you happen to receive a new street tree this year, please water it at least once a week through the fall, making sure it gets a good dousing. It's also important to keep a two- to three-foot circle of mulch over the root zone, no more than three inches deep, to help stretch the benefits of watering.

Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.

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