Gahanna could see annual savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars, based on recommendations of a performance audit by the state auditor's office that was requested by the city.

Auditor of State Dave Yost released findings Aug. 10 after the city's request to identify ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency as it heads into 2018 budget planning.

One recommendation is that the city consider whether maintaining two pools is the best use of financial resources. Shifting all programs to one pool could save $199,000 annually over 10 years, the findings said.

Other cost-saving recommendations include changes to collective-bargaining agreements, reductions in health-insurance costs to reduce premiums and exploring opportunities for collaboration on programs the Parks and Recreation Department provides with neighboring communities and nonprofit organizations.

"The city has been implementing cost-saving measures for a number of years, and I was pleased that the performance auditors' report reflected the success of the programs as evidenced by the financial health indicators," said Joann Bury, Gahanna finance director. "I look forward to further analyzing the recommendations of the performance audit and working with the administration to ensure operations of the city continue to move toward a more efficient and cost-effective way of doing business."

Yost said it's always wise to plan for the future.

"Gahanna officials have acted responsibly by asking how the city can position itself best to weather financial downturns that might occur down the road," he said.

During the audit process, city staff members and state auditors worked together to identify areas to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of city services in light of flat population and revenue growth from 2010-15.

"Over the past few years, the city of Gahanna has been working extremely hard to provide the very best value to our taxpayers and has taken a number of steps to improve our financial management, reduce our operating costs and improve our efficiency through the development of our Sustainable Operating Model and the implementation of Lean and Six Sigma process improvement tools," Mayor Tom Kneeland said. "We appreciate the recommendations made by the auditor of state, and we are committed to continual improvement to reduce our expenditures and improve the efficiency of services we provide to our citizens."

Looking ahead to 2018, the administration plans to work with City Council to determine the appropriate level of subsidies necessary to fund important recreation programs for the coming budget and continue to explore opportunities for shared services with neighboring communities.

The city also will continue its plans to work on a wellness-clinic concept to reduce city-worker health-insurance costs and improve productivity.

The performance audit was paid for through the Auditor's Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance Fund.

The largest savings -- $396,200 annually -- could come from reducing employer health-insurance costs to the county average, according to auditors.

Bringing staffing of the city's vehicle service garage in line with the workload could save an additional $44,142 a year.

The city also could save at least $11,400 in the first year by reducing the use of overtime in police dispatching, according to the audit.

Auditors advised the city to evaluate whether additional savings might be realized by sharing dispatching resources with neighboring communities.

Auditors offered other recommendations, though the amount of savings could not be quantified. Those include the following:

* Bringing sick-leave accrual in line with peer cities

* Reducing sick-leave payout to peer-city levels

* Adjusting police overtime policies to conform more closely to the Fair Labor Standards Act and to peer cities

* Developing a data-driven staffing plan for police patrol officers and detectives

* Fully evaluating costs and benefits when setting subsidies for Parks and Recreation programs

* Exploring the potential benefit of partnering with the YMCA or other nonprofits to provide programs for seniors

The report is available at ohioauditor.gov.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla