The Ohio Auditor's Office next year will conduct a review of the city of Upper Arlington's staff and operations to see if there is a need for greater efficiencies.

After three months of reviewing the city's financial information, a nine-person Citizen Financial Review Task Force, whose members were appointed by Upper Arlington City Council, recommended the city further its privatization and collaboration initiatives to streamline operational efficiencies and costs.

Specifically, it suggested possible outsourcing or shared services for information technology, human-resources compliance functions and fleet maintenance. Those operations currently are addressed with city staff.

Now city leaders are looking to follow up on that recommendation through a performance audit council has authorized.

Assistant City Manager Dan Ralley said the audit and its results would allow city officials to continue to examine the efficiency of the city's current structure specific to fleet utilization and cycling, information technology and human resources.

Additionally, auditor's office representatives have indicated "that a high-level examination of alternative fuels can fit within the scope of their work analyzing the city's fleet," Ralley said.

"Reviewing these three areas will assist the city with an outside examination of our business practices and policies," he said. "As noted in their proposal, this work is expected to take six to eight months to complete and will necessitate the involvement of staff who will assist with the gathering of data and information.

"Representatives from the auditor's office have indicated that the project could begin as soon as January 2020."

Council voted 5-0 on Nov. 25 to approve a $48,000 contract for the audit, including a standard 15% contingency that could increase the cost to $55,200. Council members Carolyn Casper and Brian Close did not attend the meeting.

The performance audit is something councilman Jim Lynch has wanted for the past two years.

Lynch has served as a communications director for the office of former Gov. John Kasich, in a senior communications role with the Ohio Office of Budget and Management and as a former chief spokesman for Ohio State University.

From those positions, he said, he saw the benefits of performance audits on government agencies.

He called them "a common tool to help improve programs" and said he was "couldn't be happier" to see approval of the performance audit.

"Conducting a performance audit for the city of Upper Arlington has been a high priority for me," Lynch said. "I'm a firm believer that we can always do better, and we owe it to residents to continually strive to improve our operations.

"Having an objective, outside review of our programs can reveal some opportunities and efficiencies and, hopefully, help us reduce costs."

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