Task force issues recommendations


Nearly a year after its formation, members of the Delaware Financial Review Task Force went before the Delaware City Council on Jan. 23 to present the findings of the group’s report and its resulting recommendations.

The city announced the creation of the task force in December 2021, at which time it began accepting applications from members of the community. Last March, the nine-member committee was announced and charged with a set of four goals that included reviewing the city’s current financial status and outlook, exploring collaborative service-delivery opportunities and cost containment measures, assessing existing city service levels, and assessing the status of capital investments.

A total of 23 meetings were held by the task force beginning last March and finishing in January. Ten city departments participated in the meetings, which included a review of current budgets and a look ahead at future department needs. The meetings also included a review of the Regionomics report that was commissioned by the city, with the findings presented to the city in December by Regionomics owner Dr. Bill LaFayette.

During the presentation to council last month, Delaware Financial Review Task Force Chairman Michael Guzzo and Vice Chairman Ben Kelly said the group’s analysis focused on four specific areas, which included fees for services, operational efficiencies, economic development, and income tax and credit rates.

Regarding fees for services, the task force recommended implementing a standardized review schedule for service fees and permits, including a staggered review across departments every few years. Speaking specifically on Oak Grove Cemetery, where expenses far exceed its revenues, the task force recommended exploring the outsourcing of maintenance while continuing to implement high-cost recovery options for patrons.

Speaking on operational efficiencies, Kelly began by saying the city should continue to seek grant opportunities when available, noting the city has done well in that regard. Further recommendations included “outsourcing and privatization through attrition” for matters such as personnel losses in challenging positions that are expensive to replace.

As was the case with the Regionomics report, however, the task force’s primary recommendation in the report was an increase to the city’s income tax rate while keeping the current credit for those working outside the city to 0.50%. The task force suggested increasing the current income tax rate of 1.85% by 0.40%, which would make the new rate 2.25%.

According to the task force’s findings, the tax increase would generate an additional $6.3 million to address the coming budget shortfalls while also allowing for a sustainable capital improvement program.

“An increase to 2.25% accounts for the needed general fund-supported budget increases, as well as sets up a more sustainable capital program,” Kelly told council. “We explored changing the credit for local taxes paid, but in all honesty, in all of our calculations, that really kind of disproportionately affected the different revenue distributions coming out of the income tax and didn’t address the general fund and its supported expenses.”

Kelly added that leaving the credit unchanged would allow for a shared burden between the in and out-of-city workforce.

Additional recommendations from the task force include renewing and restructuring the current recreation levy of 0.15%, which would ease the Parks and Natural Resources Department’s burden on the general fund.

Following the presentation, City Manager Tom Homan thanked the committee for its “selfless” and “important” work, as well as the dedication with which each member of the committee approached the task.

Homan added, “These are significant recommendations. I believe they make sense. I think it’s important they be addressed. We know we’ve had capital challenges. Our capital challenges are more challenging than our operating challenges, but nonetheless, they’re present as well. So, there’s a lot to talk about, but I think this has been helpful in providing, I think, a good overview of what our current financial condition is and then looking out into the future.”

The draft report, as well as the form to submit public comment on the report, can be accessed by visiting www.delawareohio.net/government/departments/finnancial-review-task-force-report. Public comments will be accepted until Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 5 p.m.

No posts to display