The city of Bexley could be facing a deficit of $1.5-million to $1.7-million in 2010, according to city officials.

The city of Bexley could be facing a deficit of $1.5-million to $1.7-million in 2010, according to city officials.

That figure is much lower than the amount presented to Bexley City Council on Nov. 17, when finance director Beecher Hale predicted a $2.8-million deficit when including capital improvements.

He predicted a $2.3-million deficit without capital improvements and a $1.9-million deficit without a $400,000 cushion built into the 2010 budget.

Service director Bill Harvey and Hale met behind closed doors last week to tweak the proposed budget, lowering the projected deficit to $1.5-million to $1.7-million.

Mayor John Brennan said city administration worked diligently to trim the deficit total. Specifically, the health insurance estimate came in lower than anticipated because there are fewer employees on the plan, Brennan said. Additionally, Harvey gave back $40,000 for one of his projects, the mayor said.

"We are still going to meet two times in December," he said. "It will continue to change. I don't see (the deficit) getting higher."

City leaders hope to offset the deficit through the inheritance tax or debt service, Brennan said.

The following is a list of expenditures discussed at the Nov. 17 council meeting:

Harvey is proposing a $4,000 increase for seasonal employees to help with leaf pickup, a 28.6 percent hike from the current budget.

Harvey said the city also would see an increase in its contract with the Franklin County Board of Health from the $74,946.08 budgeted in 2009 to $85,000 for 2010. The board of health is predicting higher costs for mosquito service in 2010, with the rate increasing from 19 cents to 29 cents per resident.

Russ Halsey, network-information systems manager, requested an increase in training and travel costs from the $5,000 budgeted in 2009 to $8,000 in 2010. Training is necessary to teach employees how to use the city's new GIS system, which will assist employees in preparing customized reports on everything from street repairs to the variety of trees planted in the city, he said.

Recreation director Michael Price said his overtime budget would remain relatively flat for 2010, adding there are plans to take a closer look at possibly decreasing overtime. Projected overtime for 2010 is $5,500, just $500 more than 2009, he said.

Building director Kathy Rose is predicting a slight increase in professional service fees, from $147,300 in 2009 to $150,000 in 2010.

Brennan said Rose was authorized this year to conduct some of the smaller application reviews to help trim costs. Her involvement expedites projects for the owner and saves the city money, he said.

Development director Bruce Langner requested $2,500 for the city's annual commission retreat, a new budget request. He said the event allows the city's commissions to brainstorm, set goals and plan. Money would be used for fees and meals.

"It has been positive to get all the groups together," he said.

Police Chief Larry Rinehart said his two largest costs are utilities and building maintenance, adding it was difficult to predict what the costs will be for the new police station set to open next month. He has requested $174,000 for all utilities.

Because the building is recognized for its environmentally friendly design and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, council member Jeff McClelland asked when the enhancements would start paying off. Harvey said the building would have lower operating costs because energy efficiency will result in lower gas and electricity costs.

McClelland said he would like to see utilities separated so the city can track those costs of the new station from year to year.

Rinehart asked for a 3.8 percent increase in overtime costs from $125,000 in the 2009 budget to $132,373 in 2010. He said he probably wouldn't use all of the money because some police officers like to take compensation time instead of pay.

In 2009, police officers have received $80,000 in overtime pay and another $40,000 in comp time, Rinehart said.