Finance and judiciary committee chairman Ben Kessler was prepared to initiate the budget-cutting process during Bexley City Council's Nov. 16 meeting.

Finance and judiciary committee chairman Ben Kessler was prepared to initiate the budget-cutting process during Bexley City Council's Nov. 16 meeting.

When Kessler handed out a list of areas where he thought the city could save money, he immediately got the attention of city attorney Lou Chodosh and Mayor John Brennan.

Before Kessler could review his list of proposed reductions, Chodosh protested, saying the items listed were too sensitive to be discussed publicly and should be dealt with in an executive session.

At the last minute, Kessler agreed not to go public with his proposed budget cuts, deciding to give council members and the administration more time to review them. The subject will be addressed during a special meeting of the finance and judiciary committee in city council chambers at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30.

Kessler said an exercise to study the impact of 10 percent across-the-board cuts by every department revealed such a move would not be practical.

"We have heard over the past couple of months from different department heads about their budgets and some proposed changes and cuts that could be made," Kessler said. "I believe that most of the scenarios that we heard about, those 10 percent cut scenarios would involve cuts in service that we as a community would not bear."

As the city struggles to deal with an anticipated $1.2-million 2011 budget deficit, Kessler said projections are less than encouraging.

"We're at a place with our budget where the outlook is probably a little bit more bleak than it has been in past years," he said. "In the past we have been bailed out by excess estate tax revenue. We have benefited from unspent appropriations that we didn't really think about when we were budgeting.

"The difference this year is we have more accurately budgeted for estate tax than we have in the past and also, we're budgeting for unspent appropriations."

In an effort to deal with the budget deficit, Kessler compiled his own list of cuts for council's consideration.

"I've put together a list, this is just my list," he said. "Based on some of the conversations that we have had and some that we have not had, I want to throw this out there as a conversation starter."

As a conversation starter, it succeeded beyond his expectations.

"Because you are discussing salaries and positions, I believe this should be an executive session," Chodosh said.

Kessler countered, saying that no specific positions were being discussed and he thought the issue deserved public discussion.

"I just think there are people who you could slot into these places that could be affected by some of these cuts," Chodosh said. "I'm just putting that out there but I think it should be executive session."

Council president Jeff McClelland said he trusted Chodosh's opinion.

"I believe in acknowledging the advice of counsel," McClelland said. "I can't say yea or nay that there is executive session material here. So, I probably would have to defer to the advice of counsel."

Council member Rick Weber said he agreed with the decision to follow the advice of legal counsel.

"If this becomes public tonight, there's going to be a riot in here in the morning when people look at some of these things and go, wait a minute, that could be me," Chodosh said.

Council member Mark Masser said the issue was worthy of a separate meeting so more time and study could be devoted to it.

"I think this is another meeting," he said, "I think some of this is debatable. I think we could spend at least a half an hour to an hourIt's something we should take home and look at."

Brennan said he thought discussing the cuts publicly was a bad idea.

"We've done this 20 years ago and the mayor came back to me and said we never should have done that last night," he said. "We've been through this scenario before and I think what Mark said was right.

"We need time to digest this," Brennan said. "I would have liked the courtesy of a call to tell me in advance that this was coming today. I didn't get on my e-mail and find out and it's disturbing to me what's on here."