As a result of the income tax ballot losses in 2013, Gahanna City leadership made the commitment to citizens that we would come up with a sustainable operating plan that would allow us to do the very best we could with the valuable tax dollars that citizens have entrusted us with. Over the past year, my administration and I have worked diligently with members of Council and citizens to do just that. The proposed budget plan focuses on funding essential services, taking into consideration our limited revenue resources. This year’s annual budget request document is the product of an unprecedented level of collaboration between Council, citizen stakeholders and represents the highest levels of transparency and accountability.
The 2015 Budget, as presented to Council is a five-year plan that sets the financial course for the City of Gahanna. The plan outlines our priorities as it relates to our current operating expenses and guides us in making future capital expenditures. In undertaking this yearlong process, we took into account our current economic environment, re-examined our priorities and looked at what we consider to be our City’s core services.
In assessing our financial future, we first reflected on the past. Looking at our 2015 projected revenue vs. the last “normal” year before the recession, 2007, we saw a $3.6 million drop (12%) in overall revenue to our General Fund. The gains we have seen in some of our revenue sources over the past few years just have not been enough to counteract the dramatic reductions in grant revenue, interest earnings and State funding.
These permanent reductions have led us to develop a plan for the future that makes the most of our existing resources. The foundation of the 2015 budget is rooted in the concept of Sustainability. This past year, my administration developed what we call the Sustainable Operating Model (SOM). The SOM is built upon two key concepts:
- We will maintain the City’s existing core infrastructure and assets at a professionally appropriate level; and
- Ongoing operating costs must be able to be paid for using ongoing revenue sources. That is, we will not rely on one-time windfalls, accumulated savings, or short-term cost-cutting measures to help balance our operating budget.
The SOM is our five-year plan for General Funded City operations. The SOM, combined with our Capital Investment Plan (CIP) guides us in managing what we do have as a City at a sustainable level, while using our limited one-time resources to make targeted investments in jobs and infrastructure that provide for the health, safety and welfare of our city.
I recognize that the 2015 budget does not include every product and service that I, as your Mayor, would like to provide to the citizens of Gahanna. However, my administration is confident that it does provide citizens the core essentials we must have to continue to make Gahanna the place we are proud to call home.
The creation of our annual budget request document is always a culmination of a full year of hard work by the city staff, Council and our citizen stakeholders. I would like to take this moment to thank those individuals who participated in this collaborative process.
The 2015 Budget is available to view on the City’s website. I encourage you to review the document and submit your questions via email to email@example.com. Over the next few weeks, we will be continuing the discussion regarding the budget with Council during upcoming Committee meetings. We will also be providing a platform for citizens to comment during formal Council meetings. So I encourage you to attend. As always, we would like to hear from you and look forward to your comments and questions.
Mayor Becky Stinchcomb
City of Gahanna