A crowd of more than 100 filled the Bexley Public Library auditorium May 24 to give city council and administration officials their two cents worth on how to make up a projected multimillion-dollar shortfall in the city budget.

A crowd of more than 100 filled the Bexley Public Library auditorium May 24 to give city council and administration officials their two cents worth on how to make up a projected multimillion-dollar shortfall in the city budget.

After a review of the city's finances, and presenting a variety of possible solutions, city officials listened to nearly two hours of suggestions, criticisms and alternative solutions from 20 different residents.

Financial projections call for the city's expenses to outpace revenues as early as 2012 and to continue to escalate over the following four years. City Auditor Gary Qualmann has estimated the city will need to increase revenues and/or reduce expenses by $2.9 million a year in order to balance the city's budget over the next five years.

Finance and Judiciary Committee Chairman Ben Kessler said city tax revenues have remained relatively flat over the past decade while expenses have increased. He said state budget cuts to the Local Government Fund and the proposed elimination of Ohio's estate tax could spell financial disaster for the city. Those two sources account for approximately 25 percent of the city budget, Kessler said.

City Council President Jeff McClelland told audience members that no decision on how to solve the budget crisis has been adopted by city council, although a tax increase of some kind is likely to be placed on the November ballot.

Kessler presented three possible options during the public hearing.

Achieving the entire $2.9 million in annual savings through cost-cutting measures alone or two options, both of which would involve a combination of cost reductions and increasing the city income-tax rate from 2.0 percent to 2.5 percent. Bexley residents who work outside the community and earn $100,000 a year currently pay $400 in city income taxes. The options outlined by Kessler would cost that taxpayer an additional $275 to $475 a year, depending on the percentage of credit that resident would receive for taxes paid to the community where he or she works.

Kessler said residents who were unable to attend the May 24 public hearing but would like to weigh on the issue can do so by completing an online survey at http://bexley.org/component/content/article/45-meetingevents/458-may-24th-public-meeting-regarding-city-finances