As Ohio's economic tide rises once again after a challenging and prolonged downturn, there is increasing opportunity for the state to share its good fortune with the communities and institutions that make up its whole.
The state recently announced its new two-year capital budget -- a grand total of $2.4 billion, with approximately $160 million of this to be reinvested back into our parks, museums, infrastructure and other community projects.
I am pleased to report that UA has been awarded a share of the pot.
Pending approval by the General Assembly, we are in line for the following:
First is a $500,000 grant to support a community fiber-optic network, a project we have been planning for many months in cooperation with the UA schools and UA Library.
Our intent is to create a fiber network that will connect the 19 most prominent publicly owned buildings and to create opportunities for economic development growth in our commercial corridors, while also saving dollars for our respective entities through this partnership.
With this tentative commitment, we can move the project forward at an accelerated rate and we look forward to bringing our plans before council yet this year.
Additionally, we are set to receive a $250,000 grant toward our Northam Park Master Plan project. These funds will provide significant support toward necessary infrastructure improvements within the park and setting forth the new footprint from which the rest of the park's redevelopment can occur.
I wish to extend our sincere gratitude to state Reps. Jim Hughes and Stephanie Kunze for their role in helping to keep our requests at the forefront during the review process.
My thanks also go to those members of staff who worked so hard to put the grant applications together in a short timeframe: our IT director, Granville Harris, and Community & Economic Development Manager Bob Lamb for the fiber project; and Parks & Recreation Director Tim Moloney for the Northam Park Master Plan project.
Each summer, UA households receive a publication from the city that encapsulates all things finance -- the Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR).
This report is designed to be the reader-friendly version of an important and necessary document that can only be described as long, confusing and somewhat dry -- the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) -- and that should only be read by the brave of heart with the appropriate financial background.
When we produced our first PAFR, we saw an increase in positive impressions and understanding of the city's financial procedures through one of our community survey processes.
In the years since, we have found it an invaluable means for sharing important financial information with residents, as well as highlighting pivotal economic development projects, the challenges we face keeping up with our infrastructure needs and most recently, an informative breakdown of what the typical UA resident pays to the city in various fees and taxes.
This report has repeatedly received recognition from the Government Finance Officer's Association, and the 2012 report is no exception, with our Finance & Administrative Services Department receiving word that it is once again the recipient of an Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Positive comments from the reviewers touched on its visual appeal and positive portrayal of the community, and for succeeding in being both brief and informative.
My congratulations to Cathe Armstrong and the Finance & Administrative Services team for a job well done. The information contained in the PAFR reflects a year's worth of hard work and accountability, and clearly what a good job the city does of managing its finances from one year to the next.
Visit uaoh.net and look under the Document Center-Annual Reports to view an online version of the 2012 PAFR.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.