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Columbus Auditor Looks Back After 48 Years And Six Administrations

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Debbie Holmes
/
WOSU
Columbus city auditor Hugh Dorrian

After 52 years working in city government, Columbus city auditor Hugh Dorrian jokes his biggest accomplishment is his long record. Dorrian will retire at the end of December. 

During his 48-year tenure as city auditor, Dorrian's conservative practices helped to keep Columbus’ AAA credit rating, the highest available. Dorrian says the city is unique because it does not borrow money to fund its operations.

“All the money borrowed is for infrastructure,” Dorrian says.

Dorrian’s management style over the city’s finances brought lower interest rates on the city’s debt, which stands at $4.5 billion. He says residents were able to save money.

“Water and sewer make up almost two-thirds of the city’s debt,” Dorrian says. "Well, that means you can keep your water and sewer rates at a lower rate than if you had to pay higher interest rates on your debt."

In 2009, during the height of the Great Recession, Dorrian spearheaded an effort to increase the city's income tax from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

“If we had not sought and received taxpayer approval for that rate increase, I will tell you we would be living in a different kind of a city today," Dorrian says. "Because we would have been looking at a major reduction in safety forces and some other forces that serve the citizens.”

The 82-year-old Democrat worked under six Columbus mayors, both Democrats and Republicans. He says he worked well with all of them.

"I try to work for the betterment of the community in all of my decisions," Dorrian says. "It's not a matter of being a Democrat or a Republican, you should always put forth your first thought, what is the impact on a community, before you make a decision."