Upper Arlington City Council has named a new nine-member task force to conduct "high-level" reviews and assessments of the city's financial outlook, its services and community needs.
The new group succeeds a 13-member Citizen Review Financial Task Force appointed by council in June 2014 that provided recommendations for addressing a financial crisis related to an economic downtown and the city's ability to fund a variety of services and capital improvements such as roadways and water lines.
That group's work led to, among other things, the implementation of a plan to invest $113 million in infrastructure over the subsequent 10 years, as well as Issue 23, a levy voters passed in November 2014 that raised local income taxes from 2 percent to 2.5 percent and generated $3.5 million in new annual revenues to be used for capital improvements.
Each council member made one appointment to the new CRFTF and, by virtue of an existing resolution, council President Kip Greenhill was awarded three selections. For his two additional picks, Greenhill said he solicited input from Councilman Jim Lynch, who formerly was a communications director for Ohio Gov. John Kasich and a senior communications officer with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management, and from Councilwoman Michele Hoyle, who chaired the 2014 task force's revenue subcommittee.
The new task force members are:
* Jamie Crane (appointed by Greenhill), who serves on the boards of the Upper Arlington Community Foundation, Goodwill Columbus and Franklin University and formerly worked in marketing and strategic planning for Kraft General Foods and Quaker Oats.
* Ann Gabriel (the task force's chairwoman, appointed by Councilwoman Carolyn Casper), a certified public accountant, retired professor of accountancy at the Ohio University College of Business and former professor of accountancy at the University of Notre Dame.
* Colin Gawel (chosen by Greenhill), owner of Colin's Coffee on Riverside Drive and winner of the city's 2018 Business of the Year award.
* W. Gregory Guy, (appointed by Councilwoman Sue Ralph), chief executive officer for the Dublin-based hearing and cooling business, Air Force One. He also is a past chairman of the Upper Arlington Community Foundation and past chapter chairman of YPO, a global network of young chief executives.
* Ukeme Awakessien Jeter (named by Greenhill), patent counsel on the Marketing & Intellectual Property Legal Team at Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., with previous experience at multiple private law firms.
* Tim Keen (chosen by Councilman Jim Lynch), senior adviser and chief financial officer for the Ohio Auditor's Office and former director of the Ohio Office of Budget and Management. He also was a policy adviser for former Ohio Auditor Mary Taylor.
* Matthew J. Kirby (chosen by Hoyle), a certified financial planner and managing director of Hamilton Capital, an investment management services company.
* Matthew Rule (appointed by council Vice President Brendan King), senior vice president of development for National Church Residences and a former transactional attorney at Squire Sanders LLP.
* Kaz Unalan (chosen by Councilman Brian Close), a CPA who is director of tax and business advisory services for GBQ, a tax, accounting and consulting firm. While the 2014 task force met for six months, the new task force is expected to work for three months before returning any recommendations to council.
Its duties include reviewing the 2014 CRFTF report, determining to what extent its recommendations have been implemented and evaluating the outcomes of those efforts.
It also is charged with undertaking a "high-level review of the city's current financial status and overall outlook," exploring "further privatization and/or collaboration opportunities" with other entities and municipalities and assessing existing services to "verify alignment with community needs and/or expectations."
The CRFTF also will assess the city's capital improvement program and recommend specific areas where a fuller review may be needed.
Hoyle said the original task force was formed out of necessity because city infrastructure was deteriorating with no means for major repairs. She said the 2014 CRFTF recommended following up in five to eight years to chart Upper Arlington's financial progress and needs. Councilman Jim Lynch said the new task force's work will dovetail well with a potential performance audit of the city's services and management that could be conducted this summer or fall by the Ohio Auditor's Office.
"I think (the CRFTF) is good government," Lynch said. "We all know the next economic downturn could be right around the corner.