A Message from City Manager Dana McDaniel
Resilience. It’s a word we have leaned on and leaned into over the past year. But resilience is more than a theme or a slogan in Dublin; it is an area of strategic focus for the City and has been long before COVID-19. It means more than being able to take a punch; it is about bouncing back after adversity as strong as before. It is not something that just happens; it is a result of forward thinking, planning and preparedness.
Despite the global pandemic, economic recession and financial uncertainty, the City of Dublin was able to maintain a high level of services and infrastructure investment in 2020 due to our ongoing commitment to five areas of strategic focus: fiscal health; economic vitality; smart, customer-focused government; community engagement; and safe and resilient community. These focus areas are the result of City Council’s vision and leadership, and they are at the core of everything we do in Dublin.
Fiscal health: The City ended 2020 with operating revenues totaling $92 million, which was less than $1 million below our original budget. This, as the national unemployment rate increased from 4.4% to 14.7%, the stock market fell 34% and Gross Domestic Product fell 31.4% in the second quarter. The key driver behind the City’s financial strength was the resilience of the City’s Income Tax revenue, which makes up more than 75% of the City’s operating revenues. This funding comes from Dublin’s 2% income tax. In 2020, Dublin collected $92.2 million in income tax revenue, exceeding our original budget of $89.3 million by almost $3 million.
Another significant part of the City’s strong fiscal health is our rainy day fund represented by the General Fund balance. Dublin ended 2020 with a record General Fund balance of $71.3 million. This balance was achieved through a strategic reduction in operating expenditures and successful economic development initiatives.
Economic vitality: The City advanced new economic development initiatives, including one with Quantum Health, which relocated its headquarters to Dublin and has quickly become one of our largest employers. The City also executed economic development agreements with Air Force One, g2o and MedFlight, which resulted in the retention of more than 300 jobs and the addition of nearly 600 new ones. We also progressed on prior agreements, including investing in infrastructure to support the new Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Ambulatory Care Center, which will bring hundreds of jobs, tens of millions in annual payroll and robust new community wellness benefits.
Additionally, the City invested $300,000 in our local economy by funding the Restart Dublin Ohio plan administered through Visit Dublin Ohio in order to support our local businesses and community. The campaign aimed to offset some of the impacts COVID-19 had on the tourism and hospitality industries.
Smart, customer-focused government: Dublin aspires to be the most connected city in the United States, and due to that commitment, we have been aggressively pursuing, developing and utilizing technology to improve lives and experiences for our residents and business community. Therefore, many systems were already in place to continue serving the community safely when the pandemic emerged. We worked smarter and harder.
We increased usage of our GoDublin app, which allows customers to submit service requests, report issues and get information. We added a “coronavirus” section to provide updates and the latest orders, advisories and guidelines from local, state and federal health authorities.
We ensured the safe continuity of governance by transitioning City Council and other public meetings to digital platforms. The City conducted more than 100 virtual public meetings in 2020 and produced more than 140 videos, including a digital State of the City presentation.
Of course, not all services can be provided virtually. City leadership identified minimum staffing levels needed to provide essential services such as trash collection, street and utility maintenance and traffic control. We implemented vigorous safety and sanitation protocols at all City facilities and installed kiosks, which measured temperatures to screen all employees and visitors for indications of fever. City services continued without interruption throughout the year thanks to the dedication of City staff and our contractors, such as Rumpke, which handled a significant spike in demand during the pandemic.
Community engagement: Around the globe, communities embraced the “We’re all in this together” mantra in 2020. That was also true in our city, where citizens celebrated the “Dublin Cares” campaign, spreading hope and kindness through pictures, messages, works of art and many other demonstrations of togetherness.
Our Outreach & Engagement team never slowed down, instead increasing their level of service to the community: coordinating volunteers, delivering groceries, making wellness calls to vulnerable citizens and working with community partners like Dublin City Schools, Syntero, faith-based communities and assisted-living facilities.
Residents turned to the City’s communication platforms in record numbers. The Communications & Public Information team transformed the City’s website into a hub of COVID-19 information, sent regular email updates and utilized social media platforms to provide a continual stream of information.
Safe and resilient: Above all else, Dublin remained a safe and resilient community, which is always our top priority. The Dublin Police Department and Washington Township Fire and EMS implemented rigorous health and safety protocols to continue ensuring public safety and providing emergency response services at all times. We activated our Emergency Operations Center, and key personnel from every department in the City held regular briefings. Guided by the pandemic plan we had in place, our emergency management team demonstrated agility and vigilance to meet the unique challenges of COVID-19. Additionally, the City worked closely with state and local health officials and followed the guidance of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health to implement measures to contain the virus to the best of our ability.
We know we will continue to be a safe and resilient city long after the pandemic has passed. It is who we are as a local democracy, as strategic planners, as fi scal stewards, as service providers and as a community. We look forward to emerging stronger, healthier and more vibrant than ever in 2021!
Dublin City Manager