City leaders say they're pleased with the 2010 budget that Bexley City Council approved Dec. 15.

City leaders say they're pleased with the 2010 budget that Bexley City Council approved Dec. 15.

The budget allocates $11,803,358 for general fund expenditures and another $5-million for capital improvement projects.

According to finance director Beecher Hale, general fund expenditures include the following transfers: $325,000 to the street fund, $170,000 to the recreation fund, $66,018 to the police pension fund and $1,308,763 to the bond retirement fund.

"We supplement (those funds) because their revenue sources don't meet their need," Hale said, adding the bond retirement fund is solely funded by the general fund.

Service director Bill Harvey said he was pleased with the $3-million worth of street and water and sewer line repairs that have been authorized as part of the capital improvements expenditures. Last year, the city budgeted $4-million for street repairs and issued bonds for $3-million in improvements.

Service department officials have yet to identify which streets need the most work, but the $3-million was a step in the right direction, Harvey said.

Mayor John Brennan said this year's budget allocated money for the service department to make some repairs in the alleys and to curbs. Service employees will perform the work rather than contracting it out, Brennan said.

The service department also is hoping to work with new city auditor Gary Qualmann to issue bonds to pay for projects, Brennan said.

At the Dec. 15 council meeting, members discussed Harvey's request for fuel for the city's service vehicles in 2010. He requested $150,000, but council allocated $110,000.

"If fuel prices spike, we can certainly go back and ask for more money," Harvey said.

Recreation and parks director Michael Price said opening up the third floor of Jeffrey Mansion had the biggest impact on his budget.

The city learned earlier this year that it had been awarded a $475,000 Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission grant to fund Jeffrey Mansion interior renovations. Part of the funds will be used to remodel the third floor to provide additional space for recreation programs.

Heating and cooling, maintenance and supply costs could increase with the third-floor remodeling, Price said. The remodeling won't begin until the middle of 2010, with new programs added during the second half of the year, he said.

"We will have a better feel next year in 2011 when it's open for a full year (of) what type of expenses will be incurred," he said.

The Jeffrey Mansion electricity budget increased from $19,284 in 2009 to $24,000 for 2010, and gas increased from $12,000 in 2009 to $14,000 in 2010.

Brennan said the budget passed by council was fair and he didn't see any glaring weaknesses.

"We did our best to stay under budget, as we have the last two years," he said.

Hale said the city is projecting a $1.7-million deficit, down from the November projection of $2.3-million.

The city is showing the deficit based on the money it receives and projected expenditures, said departing council member Robyn Jones, who chaired the finance committee. However, because of a carryover from estate tax revenue, there is not a negative balance, she said.

Water, sewer rates to rise

Also on Dec. 15, council approved increases in water and sewer rates for 2010 because Columbus, which provides water and sewer services to Bexley, is increasing its rates. The sewer rate will increase from $57.06 per 1,000 cubic feet to $58.20, and the water rate will increase from $40.02 per 1,000 cubic feet to $43.42, Harvey said.

Harvey told council that only about 4,000 feet of waterline was replaced in 2009; the city has about 20 miles of waterlines, he said.

Council president Matt Lampke said at some point, it was council's desire to replace 2 percent of the city's waterlines per year. He said he could not support the rate hike without a discussion about long-range plans for waterline repairs.

"Significant improvements still need to be made," he said.

Harvey said the rate increases were being passed on to Bexley from Columbus, but Lampke said he wanted to make sure the city was charging residents enough money to maintain an appropriate replacement schedule.

"Your issue is different than what this ordinance is for," said city attorney Lou Chodosh.