Worthy Point of View: October heralds start of budget season

Matt Greeson
Guest columnist

October and November are a time for financial planning for the city of Worthington as we seek to have the budget in place for the upcoming calendar year.

Consistent with the city charter, I submit a proposed budget to Worthington City Council at least 60 days before the end of the year. In practice, this typically is done well before that timeframe in early October.

Matt Greeson

In Worthington, the budget process includes two documents: the proposed operating budget, which lays out spending for programs and services year-round, and the capital-improvements program, which is the city’s five-year plan for equipment, infrastructure maintenance and physical improvements.

These two documents are very important to city operations and activities, as they serve to take all the ideas and concepts that could be pursued and fit them within the financial resources available. These documents illustrate the priorities that will actually be able to be implemented in the near future. They address everything from playgrounds and parks, water lines and traffic signals to emergency response, trash collection, snow removal and much more.

It is my experience that although some people love to dive into numbers to really understand what is happening, others prefer to read or hear about what is proposed. We work hard to make these two documents accessible and understandable for everyone in the community by providing both the narrative and the numbers.

Each document starts with a written summary that describes the current situation, financial trends and the tradeoffs involved in matching needs and desires with financial constraints. The text is followed by spreadsheets of numbers for anyone who wants to dive into the numeric detail.

The proposed 2021 operating budget and the 2021-25 capital-improvements program documents are available under the finance section of the city’s website at worthington.org/budget. In addition to the documents, we also have created a series of four short videos that soon will be available on the city’s website and serve as introductory information about the city’s finances.

City Council is committed not only to making Worthington's finances and financial plans readily accessible to the public but also to providing opportunities for members of the public to provide input. Our website soon will have a budgeting tool that you can utilize to communicate with us about the choices you would make with the budget. Using this tool, you would work to fit the requests for funds with the resources available.

Between Oct. 12 and the end of November, each of the City Council meetings will include a portion of the budget or capital plan that is presented and discussed.

Residents are encouraged to provide comments during these workshops. Please go to the City Council section at worthington.org/council for information about how to see and participate in the City Council meeting and to access meeting-agenda packets, which will provide additional details on the specific areas to be discussed.

These are interesting and challenging times for the city and our community. City Council and I urge everyone who has an interest in city operations and initiatives to become informed and engaged in the budgeting process.

Matt Greeson is Worthington's city manager.