A proposed change in Bexley City Council's committee structure has the potential to improve city operations from a long-term, strategic standpoint, according to Ben Kessler, chairman of council's finance and judiciary committee.

A proposed change in Bexley City Council's committee structure has the potential to improve city operations from a long-term, strategic standpoint, according to Ben Kessler, chairman of council's finance and judiciary committee.

Kessler has introduced legislation calling for the creation of a city council strategic committee.

"This ordinance would fold the water, sewer, and drainage committee into the service committee," Kessler said.

He said the new committee will shift council's approach from reactive to proactive.

"Council's process today is in many ways geared towards reactionary leadership," Kessler said. "Ordinances and resolutions are typically crafted at the behest of city directors, or they are formed in reaction to a resident concern or some other current event.

"My concern is making sure that council also functions as a proactive body - one that anticipates and identifies the future needs of the city, and crafts goals and benchmarks in order to plan for the future. One way to do that is to commission plans."

Kessler noted the city has commissioned several plans - most recently the Bexley Land Use Strategy Plan, and prior to that the Southwest Bexley Master Plan.

"There's also the Jeffrey Mansion Plan, and the work of the Main Street Guidelines Committees (past and present)," he said. "All of these plans have provided very valuable visions and goals for the city, but after they are crafted there isn't any mechanism for ensuring that they are followed, or consulted, or even re-examined on a regular basis to ensure that the city is following the plans/strategies/guidelines that we have adopted."

Kessler said the function of the strategic committee would be "to regularly follow up with those plans, make sure the city is on track with its goals, and also create a support and accountability structure for the formulation of new goals and new benchmarks as the city's needs and vision evolve."

Kessler said he got the idea from the city of Grandview Heights.

"I've seen a similar system in place at Grandview City Council, and I was really impressed to see how council members there were each assigned specific items to work on and follow up on, and it was great to see Grandview's council working proactively and focusing productively on their strategic process. I think with a new council starting at the beginning of 2012, the time is ripe for a new energy and a new focus of city council, and I'm excited to see what could come out of this proposed change in council's committee structure."

Council's standing committees are appointed by the president of council at the first regular meeting in January each year. With current council president Jeff McClelland leaving office at the end of the year, new committee assignments will be due next month.

The standing committees are made up of three members each, including the committee chair., and serve for a period of one year.

Kessler said the strategic committee duties would consist of "reviewing relevant strategic planning efforts of the city, determining and overseeing steps to be taken to enact the city's strategic plans, formulating and overseeing city council's own strategic goals, and working in conjunction with the administration and various committees and commissions of the city to determine the propriety and scope of any new strategic planning endeavors for the city."

The current standing committees include: zoning and development; finance and judiciary; parks and forestry; safety; service; and water, sewer and drainage.