As the new year begins, a long-held tradition here at the city is to invite the community in for an evening of reflection, celebration and networking.
I am, of course, referring to our annual State of the City address. This year's address will be held Monday, Jan. 27, from 5-7:30 p.m. at the Municipal Services Center, 3600 Tremont Road.
Overflow parking is available at the OSU Golf Course parking lot.
This year's theme, "Charting a New Course," illustrates the city's need to find its way in our new fiscal realities.
Though we are operating with our lowest number of staff in many years and we've cut healthcare and benefits costs, we have yet to make up for the loss of the estate tax and the cut to the Local Government Fund.
We are tasked with dispelling the myths -- for example, that economic development can make up for the millions in lost revenue -- and creating solutions.
Part of our commitment to chart a new course is the Citizen Financial Review Task Force, a group of very capable citizens who have been asked to help council and the city administration look at our finances in new ways.
While this year's speech will touch on the successes of 2013, such as the excellent responses we received with the community survey, it will also focus on our need to both cut expenses and increase revenue, and how we can do that without decreasing resident satisfaction with services.
A popular State of the City tradition comes at the end of the formal address, when we celebrate community members who made a difference in the past year through our Community Awards Program.
This year, the Upper Arlington Rotary Club has sponsored a new award for volunteerism, and they will generously donate $500 to the recipient's charitable organization.
Each year, an impressive list of individuals, civic groups and businesses are applauded for their contributions to UA, and the slate of nominees for 2013 is certainly keeping the tradition alive.
The evening begins with our Community Fair, from 5-6:30 p.m. The Community Fair features exhibits from various organizations and city departments, providing an opportunity for residents to meet with community leaders and staff during one convenient forum.
We'll still be giving away prizes. Guests can register to win a one-year supply of refuse stickers or a 2014 pool pass, among other prizes -- but instead of stamping your program during the fair, there will be a web URL to an online survey and quiz in your program.
After taking this very short survey, you'll be registered to win. Be sure to stick around for the awards presentation -- you never know what the survey questions might be!
Wall of Honor
If you haven't yet submitted a nomination for the 2014 Wall of Honor, Friday, Jan. 17, is the last day to do so. You can find more information and a nomination form on our website, so don't delay.
Speaking of Friday, Jan. 17, that's also the last day to submit your responses to the UA communications survey, which can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/uacommunications.
It's a five-minute survey that will help us understand your satisfaction with city communications and how you best communicate with your city.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.