During its Nov. 18 meeting, Bexley City Council approved an $11.6 million budget for 2014 and rejected a proposal to pay bonuses to Recreation and Parks employees who are exempted from overtime compensation.

During its Nov. 18 meeting, Bexley City Council approved an $11.6 million budget for 2014 and rejected a proposal to pay bonuses to Recreation and Parks employees who are exempted from overtime compensation.

The city of Bexley's 2014 budget allots $2 million for "general government," which includes the mayor's, auditor's and city attorney's offices, up from $1,942,282 in the 2013 budget; $5.9 million for "public health and safety," which includes the police, fire and health departments, up from $5,681,347 in 2013; $1.3 million for "public service," which includes street, water and sewer maintenance, up from $1,258,982; and $490,667 for "recreation," down from $540,813 in 2013.

Before approving the 2014 budget, council members discussed the Recreation and Parks Department bonuses. The bonuses would have been paid to employees who are exempt from overtime but work beyond their normal shifts to cover special events such as the annual Fourth of July celebration.

Council members said they are open to the concept of compensating Recreation and Parks employees for going above and beyond the call of duty, but ultimately voted against including the bonus money in the 2014 budget. Council members said they need more time to research whether employees in other departments also deserve additional compensation.

Councilman Tim Madison said he appreciates Recreation and Parks employees' work, but felt singling them out for bonuses would be unfair to other city employees.

"It just seems incredibly inequitable to me with all the other employees to do that," Madison said. "I've not heard that it's ever been done in the city before."

Councilman Steve Keyes advocated for allotting money in the budget for the Recreation and Parks bonuses to give Recreation Director Michael Price and Mayor Ben Kessler an opportunity to work out the details of why staff deserved the bonuses.

"I think it's a very, very high bar to convince us that this is something that is going to work because of the inequities ... and the backlash that we're going to get," Keyes said, "but they've at least earned the right to convince us."

Price said he appreciates the fact that council members said they are open to exploring the possibility of bonuses for Recreation and Parks staff and other city employees.

"(The bonuses) wouldn't have been paid out until 2015, anyway," Price said, "so there was no reason for it to be in the 2014 budget."