Members of Bexley's Charter Review Commission said Jan. 24 they are prepared to recommend the city's elected auditor position be replaced with a director of finance, who would report directly to the mayor.

Members of Bexley's Charter Review Commission said Jan. 24 they are prepared to recommend the city's elected auditor position be replaced with a director of finance, who would report directly to the mayor.

Under the commission's recommendation, the director of finance would be appointed by the mayor and confirmed by city council. That person could also be terminated by the mayor, with the consent of city council.

Much of the public meeting at Bexley High School was spent discussing the merits of an appointed director of finance versus an elected auditor.

The Bexley city charter is being reviewed by the commission members for the first time in 12 years, and while a number of recommendations are expected to be forwarded to city council on March 1, none are as controversial as the debate over the auditor's position.

The 15-member commission has been reviewing the city charter, line by line, since November 2009. While the commission will forward its recommendations to city council, the members of city council will decide what issues, if any, are presented to voters.

Bexley is currently served by part-time auditor Gary Qualman and Beecher Hale, a full-time finance director. Commission members stressed that they were not unhappy with the performance of either of those individuals and that their decision is not personal.

"This is in no way a reflection on our current auditor or previous auditor," commission chairman John Offenberg said. "We have been blessed to have good people consistently."

However, Hale said that previous commission discussions had created an impression that his office has not communicated effectively with the mayor's office. He said that impression was inaccurate and that he has a positive working relationship with both the mayor and city council.

Commission members noted that most other central Ohio communities similar to Bexley (including Dublin, Gahanna, Grandview, Grove City, Hilliard, Westerville, Worthington and New Albany) do not have an elected auditor but instead have a director of finance who reports directly to the mayor or city manager.

"It's a way to make us more efficient," commission member Don Brosius said. "It's what has happened in the vast majority of cities."

Offenberg said that while the commission has not formally voted on the recommendation yet, he said he has "a sense that there is 100 percent consensus among this group Most people feel that we need a full-time quality person, like our current auditor, who is there, available all day, every day."