Upper Arlington News

Guest column

Financial task force adhering to list of shared values


I am pleased to report that the Citizen Financial Review Task Force has been making great progress toward its task of studying the city's fiscal situation, with the goal of developing a set of viable options for keeping Upper Arlington on strong financial footing.

Early in the process, we formed three task force subcommittees to tackle the areas of cost reductions, revenue enhancements and capital improvement needs.

Each subcommittee has been judiciously gathering, sorting through and analyzing an extensive and detailed assortment of financial data, history and trends relative to its area of focus.

The reports back to the task force as a whole have shed light on the significance of state funding reductions and other revenue losses over recent years on the city's bottom line. We have learned of the extensive work already done by city staff to trim operating costs and enhance revenue.

Last but not least, we have developed a clear understanding of the significant investment needed with respect to capital improvements if the city is to catch up and stay on track with infrastructure maintenance.

To create a framework for our work and the recommendations we will ultimately present to Upper Arlington City Council, the task force has agreed upon the following statement of shared values for this process:

• We believe that Upper Arlington offers a superior quality of life to its citizens of all ages by emphasizing public safety, innovative public services and high-quality amenities. We intend to continue that tradition for future generations.

• We want to live in a community that carefully maintains the assets in which it invests, such as streets, parks and other municipal facilities.

• Recent changes to state law have substantially reduced the amount of money available to the city to cover necessary expenses.

• We recognize that in order to maintain the high quality of city services our community has come to expect, we need to ensure that our city is well managed and uses its available resources prudently, efficiently and effectively.

• We understand that our community has limited options to generate additional revenue and we should carefully weigh all appropriate and available means of raising the necessary revenue while insuring that any plan is done in a fair and equitable manner.

At our March meeting, we began thinking about how we will pool our work into one final report, as well as considering the timing for sharing our findings with the community and ultimately, presenting our recommendations of options to city council.

Our tentative plan is to bring the work of the subcommittees to a conclusion within the next month. In mid-to-late May, the community will be invited to a presentation and discussion of our findings, and we hope to make our final presentation to council in early June.

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

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