The city of Gahanna will implement a new budget process this year, offering several opportunities for public involvement and input.

The city of Gahanna will implement a new budget process this year, offering several opportunities for public involvement and input.

City Council President Brian Larick said he initiated the concept, but the new procedure is the result of a cooperative effort among Mayor Becky Stinchcomb, finance director Jennifer Teal and public-information manager Brian Hoyt.

He said it's critical for the ongoing fiscal and functional success of Gahanna that the city establish a comprehensive, publicly engaged and transparent budget process.

Historically, council has received a 100-plus-page accounting printout, as well as presentations from city directors, during budget and appropriations seasons. Council usually takes two weeks to review the accounting sheets and then asks questions.

"My observation has been that this process is without context and, as a 'part-time' employee, find, without significant additional information, it is rather limited in value to the citizens of Gahanna," Larick said.

The objective of the new plan is to use a process that provides a sense of the direction of the city and individual departments, provide insight into the objectives and standards that have been defined and to understand the costs compared to revenues and the gaps or surpluses that result.

Larick said changes would include a new budget document developed by Teal, public presentations by city directors and an opportunity for the public to comment on funding needs, concerns and ideas.

Teal began the internal communication process several weeks ago. Her new budget document includes narratives providing background and context for the objectives and costs that each area has identified, as well as five-year projections.

It also will include what has been removed (if funds are limited) or planned additions (if surplus funds are identified) and why those items are in or out.

The budget document will be available to the public June 1 via the website.

City directors will present their budget segment during council's committee-of-the-whole meeting June 11 and 12.

Videos of those presentations will be made available on the Gahanna website within 24 hours of the meetings.

Gahanna residents also are invited to a public forum Tuesday, June 19, to speak about their expectations on what should be funded or where funding should be cut.

The schedule will feature three public speakers alternating with one council speaker, with each having three minutes for their comments.

Those who are unable to attend the meeting will have an opportunity to submit information via email.

Council is scheduled to vote on the budget July 2.

Larick said the budget changes this year are a step toward continually improving how the city functions so that it is more efficient and better prepared.

Stinchcomb, council and the directors will use the input received to evaluate and adjust the budget for the appropriations process that will follow in November and December.