Delaware City Council on March 14 approved a resolution to create a nine-member citizens financial-review task force to spend six months examining the city’s financial challenges.
The effort was largely inspired by council discussion in August 2021 on the need for accelerated street repairs.
The city is failing to keep up with needed maintenance, finance director Justin Nahvi told council at that meeting, with 34% of the city’s streets having a poorly rated condition, a level that he said far exceeds the recommended maximum of 5%.
Also at that time, city documents showed that the city needed to spend $3.4 million annually to maintain neighborhood streets, yet the projected 2022 general fund included only about $563,000 for streets.
City Manager Tom Homan then raised the possibility of a five-year property-tax levy dedicated to road resurfacing, an idea that did not last.
Because a proposed income-tax increase to fund street work failed in 2016, Homan in January said a better alternative would be to seek public input with a citizens committee.
“This resolution will establish a financial-review task force, which was a recommendation that came out of my 2022 budget to City Council,” Homan told council members March 14. “At the time, the recommendation really centered on not so much the city’s current financial condition but just going forward and taking a look at our expenditures, our revenue, our capital improvement program, our transportation needs and really just allowing a citizens group to assist City Council.”
He said the task force would spend six months reviewing city finances – with input from city department heads and a fiscal review prepared by economics consultant Bill Lafayette of Columbus – and report back with recommendations in the fall.
Council member Lisa Keller said the city likely faces three options: increasing revenue, finding a successful approach not yet considered or making cuts if the first two options fail.
“Option 3 seems more possible right now than it did several months ago, with inflation the way that it is,” Keller said. “That third path is very, very drastic.”
The task force members, all residents of the city, are:
• Michael Guzzo, who, in his written request for consideration, said he is the retired finance director and town accountant for the town of Maynard, Massachusetts.
• Maura Donahue, who said she is vice president for finance and administration at Ohio Wesleyan University.
• Liz Owens, who said she is CEO of both TAG Community Living and Alpha Group of Delaware.
• Ben Kelly, who said he has held several science posts at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, including lead bioinformatics scientist and senior bioinformatics scientist.
• Shaun Laird, who said he is a former Columbus police officer and national trustee for Ohio for the National Fraternal Order of Police.
• Zachary Price, who said he is the owner of TRIAD Architects Ltd., TRIAD Facility Solutions, TRIAD Development Partners and Henry Price Investments.
• Lonny Ransaw, who said he is a former U.S. Army officer and retired PepsiCo executive.
• Richard Hicks, who said he has worked in the Columbus Department of Finance and Management and Columbus Public Health.
• Jonathan Connar, who said he has worked in finance for Worthington Industries.
• Brian Smith, who said he is one of three Whitehall police lieutenants responsible for the department budget.