Bexley officials announced last week that the city's new administration has reduced expenditures by $1.17-million, following through on Mayor John Brennan's campaign promise last year to save money.

Bexley officials announced last week that the city's new administration has reduced expenditures by $1.17-million, following through on Mayor John Brennan's campaign promise last year to save money.

Brennan said he wanted to take a "fresh look" at city expenditures, especially relating to the service department and legal fees.

He said one of the largest savings comes from hiring new city attorney Lou Chodosh to replace Jim Gross, who represented the city since 1985.

For the first six months of 2007, the city paid $139,105 in legal expenses. During the same period this year the amount was $73,059, a savings of $66,074.

Bexley service director Bill Harvey said Chodosh's position with the city includes more responsibilities than years past.

"Lou does more for his annual retainer than the previous attorney did," Harvey said.

Harvey said Brennan negotiated rates and responsibilities with Chodosh. He said that in previous years Gross would bill the city for extra expenses, while Chodosh does not.

"He said, 'Either you do it for less money, or we find someone else,' " Harvey said, referring to Brennan.

Harvey said city officials also decided not to hire as many seasonal employees and to reduce overtime pay for many city staff members. In the past, the city hired between five and nine summer employees for the service department.

Now, the city is having its own service staff perform more work such as collecting leaves in the fall and installing new curbs.

"We felt comfortable asking our guys to do the work," Harvey said. "There might be some overtime, but it won't be anywhere near the cost of what the others would be."

Brennan said the service staff is more than qualified to assume some of the responsibilities that either independent contractors or seasonal staff handled before.

Harvey, who is being paid $22,886 less than previous service director Dorothy Pritchard, also said the city decided to rebid certain projects to keep down costs.

"As these expenses came up over the normal course of business, we looked at them and said 'It looks like we can do this cheaper,' " he said. "It's just a different approach on how to do things."

Harvey said much of this year's savings will be one-time reductions, including $150,000 saved from the Maryland Avenue road-improvement project that started in 2006.

The savings in this area is coming from the interest the city would have had to pay on a state grant that it no longer needs to complete the project, Harvey said.

The position cuts of the building service director as well as the information technology director earlier this year saved the city a total of $196,793 for 2008.

Harvey said that the savings will go to reduce the city's deficit spending. It is estimated that Bexley will have a $1.3-million deficit for the 2008 fiscal year.

The majority of the $1.17-million savings will show up in the general fund at the end of the year, said city auditor Larry Heiser.

"I believe that some of the council members should understand that this administration understands how important it is to save money, so they are all thinking of ways to save money," Harvey said. "Hopefully this will put more of a cost focus on what we do here."

Council member Mark Masser said he thinks the administration has done a good job of making cuts.

"I think the new mayor has taken the bull by the horns," he said.