Community members and city leaders spent months coming up with a list of financial recommendations for Bexley's future, but police Chief Larry Rinehart said not all of the recommendations make sense for his department.

Community members and city leaders spent months coming up with a list of financial recommendations for Bexley's future, but police Chief Larry Rinehart said not all of the recommendations make sense for his department.

Mayor John Brennan assembled a financial task force last November to find ways to reduce expenditures, boost revenues and help the city balance its budget. The task force recently presented its final report to Bexley City Council.

Members of the committee were split into five subcommittees -- service, revenue, safety, administration and recreation and parks. A list of recommendations was prepared for each department.

"They met with me one time, many months ago," Rinehart said. "I did not hear from them after that."

The task force recommended the police department look at revenue opportunities that could be generated by the new police station that is under construction, as long as those opportunities don't affect normal operations. This could include renting out the meeting room and firing range.

Rinehart said the new police building will not be open to the general public. The building was specifically designed that way, he said.

"We can't let people come in and out of that small training room," he said. "We have to have police observation the entire time so no one wanders off."

Department of Homeland Security guidelines require that a police facility be secure, Rinehart said.

He said instead of paying for extra access to the community room, city council decided to refurbish the old police station and open it for public meetings.

If the department rented out the firing range, located on the third floor of the new facility, visitors would have to be under the direct supervision of a police officer, Rinehart said.

"We did not build a public-use facility," he said. "I explained that in detail to members of the task force when we met months ago. They seemed to understand."

The new facility is expected to be operational by Dec. 15, Rinehart said. City leaders broke ground last November.

City auditor Larry Heiser said Rinehart explained clearly to the committee that the conference room could not be used by the general public. He said committee members generally agreed, but members like the new space and think it should be used more.

"That is what it came down to," he said. "They wanted it to be heard, in the future if things change, to start getting people to think about it."

Task force member Susan Plaisted said renting portions of the new police station was discussed. Members knew up front the building would not be open to the public.

"However, discussion included looking into renting the firing range to other police departments such as Whitehall," she said.

She said the discussion between the police chief and the safety committee covered many issues that the general task force might have struggled with.

"I believe the safety committee and police chief are in agreement," Plaisted said.

The financial task force also recommended implementing a reserve officer police program. Rinehart said at the time he met with the safety committee, he already had implemented the reserve program.

"We have not made as much headway with that as I would have liked," Rinehart said. "The recruiting market has gotten tough."

The reserve program is for volunteer police officers, but with the state of the economy, fewer people are willing or able to donate their time as a police officer, Rinehart said. The department has interviewed several people and conducted background checks, but no one has met department standards, he said.

Rinehart said he was surprised by the recommendation that the city outsource animal control work to the Franklin County Board of Health, because Bexley has a police officer dedicated to the position.

"The truth is Franklin County cannot provide the level of animal control officer support that we have," he said. "They cannot make Bexley the priority our own officer makes."

Plaisted said the safety committee was asked to review the police department budget. The committee searched for budget adjustments that could be made to improve the bottom line, Plaisted said, adding the police chief runs a very lean department.

"There were essentially few if any items to remove from his budget," she said.