Upper Arlington News

Guest column

Citizen financial task force committed to finding solutions

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The Citizen Financial Review Task Force has been delving into its charge from Upper Arlington City Council since early December. As chairman of this task force, I see great value in keeping the broader community informed of our progress, something I hope to be able to do with some regularity in the coming months.

In our first meeting, we concluded that our efforts would be most effective if we broke down city council's charge into manageable sections, so we divided our group into three subcommittees.

They are:

•Cost reductions: Analyze the actions already taken to reduce costs and the potential for other steps that could be taken to achieve additional savings.

•Revenue enhancements: Review options that are available to us to increase revenue, including the potential for economic development, expansion of cost-recovery programs and user fees, as well as consideration of a tax increase and what form it might take.

•Capital improvements needs: Study the city's 10-year capital plan, designed to catch up on much-needed infrastructure enhancements, determine what actions should follow this plan in order for the city to stay current, and explore options for securing the significant level of funding necessary to accomplish these tasks.

I wish to thank my fellow task force members for their commitment to this critical effort: Ted Bernert, Dennis Concilla, Kris Devine, Bill Gable, Chris Guglielmi, Jack Hershey, Michelle Hoyle, Dan McCormick, Marianne Mitchell, John Ness, Lori Trent and Ron Wigington.

We are a diverse group, bringing to the table many different backgrounds and viewpoints. We have quickly found, however, that we share a core set of beliefs and hopes, and we are all committed to finding solutions that will serve the needs of our entire community.

These are not just goals for preserving the Upper Arlington that we enjoy today, but for making our community stronger and better for future generations.

As we discuss the findings of our subcommittees, the overarching framework of our effort and what we hope to bring back to city council, our discourse has been lively and to the point. Our task force members are not hesitant to deal openly with difficult topics and ask tough but important questions -- but at all times, our discourse has been bolstered by our shared sentiments and hopes for securing the strong, safe and appealing Upper Arlington of the future.

I believe a primary task before us -- and let me use Ronald Reagan's favorite Russian proverb -- is to "trust, but verify" that the city's financial condition as presented by the administration is accurate and complete.

As the task force began its work and in the weeks since, we have been provided extensive information that is of a very high quality. I applaud City Manager Ted Staton, Finance Director Cathe Armstrong and all those on staff involved in this effort. They have gone to great lengths to provide the resources and tools we need to perform our task effectively.

All task force and subcommittee meetings are open to the public, and all opinions and ideas are welcome. Visit uaoh.net for a summary of our work, meeting dates and more.

Richard Simpson is chairman of Upper Arlington's Citizen Financial Review Task Force.

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