Bexley City Council members are gearing up for budget discussions to finalize the city's financial needs next year.

Bexley City Council members are gearing up for budget discussions to finalize the city's financial needs next year.

Though the budget is currently in draft form, Auditor Larry Heiser said there are some numbers that community members will be pleased to see.

According to the most recent draft published Monday, city officials have cut the proposed budget by $1.7-million to $10.9-million. Last year, council members approved a budget of $19.6-million.

Heiser said he thinks council will be pleased by the work of the finance department.

A special meeting was scheduled for Oct. 7 to begin budget discussions, because a special meeting Sept. 16 was cut short because of power outages in City Hall.

"I think they are going to be very impressed with the budget," Heiser said. "I know I am."

Heiser pointed out other numbers of interest.

The technology department's budget is down 15.9 percent compared to the approved budget last year, mostly because of Mayor John Brennan's elimination of the information technology director position earlier this year.

Consistent with current fuel prices, the city departments are requesting $179,250 for that expense.

In 2008, the garage, parks, building and police departments approved a total of $84,400 for fuel from the general fund, but had to come back for additional funds throughout the year to compensate for rising prices.

It is estimated the city will spend about $178,200 in fuel for 2008.

Heiser also said the police department and the city's fire contract budget have increased as expected with inflation, but represent the city's commitment to safety.

Combined, the police department and the fire contract proposed 2009 budget is about $4.6-million.

"Without a good police force, we would see lots and lots of issues that would not make Bexley an attractive place to live," he said. "That's one reason we need to build a new police station, not only because the other one is dilapidated, but also to show that's an important piece of who we are in Bexley."

Service director Bill Harvey said the city is consolidating fuel costs under the garage department label to reduce confusion of usage and spending, especially because all city departments receive fuel from the same garage.

In his department, Harvey said he is not asking for a budget for road salt, because there is such a small supply in the area.

He said even if the city bids on salt and accepts a price, it is not guaranteed that the city would receive the product because of the high demand.

Instead, Harvey said the city is looking into a liquid alternative to road salt, which would be budgeted later after research and approval.

Recreation director Doug Jackson said at a recent recreation board meeting that he is requesting $200,000 less in 2009 than in past years.

He said council asked him to make cuts, and he did.

"It gets us back to where we were a little over two years ago," Jackson said. "We're at meat and potatoes now."

Heiser said the proposed 2009 budget shows the direction city officials are trying to take.

"Generally, the budget is reflective of the changes (the mayor) has already implemented," he said. "Every department was asked to analyze expenditures."

Heiser said he and city finance director Beecher Hale are excited about the document.

"Beecher and I have both been a little giddy on it," Heiser said. "It shows good stewardship."