Following an unusually busy summer session, Bexley City Council has begun its annual August recess.

Following an unusually busy summer session, Bexley City Council has begun its annual August recess.

During the first seven months of 2011, discussions about how to deal with state budget reductions and a projected city budget deficit dominated council activity. During that time, Mayor John Brennan announced he was fighting pancreatic cancer; veteran council member Jed Morison said he would not seek re-election in November; incumbents Ben Kessler and Mark Masser announced their candidacies; and challengers Steven Keyes, Tim Madison and Jan Zupnick tossed their hats into the ring. Jeff McClelland has decided not to run for re-election.

After months of discussion and deliberation, council members agreed to place an issue on the ballot in November increasing the city income tax from 2 to 2.5 percent.

McClelland said the August recess comes at a good time.

"Bexley City Council's August vacation is provided for in our charter," McClelland said. "I think it recognizes that council people have families, go on vacations, etc. It also gives us a chance to sort of catch our breaths, clear our minds and refresh.

"This year in particular has been a very busy year," he said, "and we have been dealing with a lot of important and high-visibility issues. A little break will do us all good."

Masser said that council frequently has found the need to schedule a special meeting or two during the August recess.

"Every year, city council takes the month of August off and almost every year, something comes up that needs our immediate attention, so we hold special meetings in August," Masser said. "This year seems no different. Many people vacation in Bexley and it seems to be a quiet and peaceful time for council members to be with their families and relax and recharge their batteries for the coming year."

Masser said council will have a full agenda when it reconvenes on Sept. 13.

"This year when we come back from our scheduled break, planning for the future tax levy and issues dealing with safety around Montrose school will be my top priorities," he said. "We will be holding a special safety meeting at 5 p.m. before our council meeting on Sept. 13 to discuss the safety concerns at Montrose school. We will also continue to prioritize and fine-tune our current budget."

Finance and judiciary committee chairman Ben Kessler said he likes the idea of an August recess.

"August recess is a good time to refocus council's energy on what initiatives we should be focusing on going forward," Kessler said. " For me, it gives my family some weeks that are less interrupted by evening meetings - something to look forward to and enjoy."

He said he is already thinking about the 2012 budget.

"When we reconvene in September, my committee's focus will primarily be on reviewing and working on the 2012 budget, and ensuring that we are setting aside proper reserves to better position ourselves for the loss of the estate tax in 2013," he said.

"I'll also continue to be focused on helping progress the work of the Alum Creek Corridor Committee, advocating for the creation of a unified zoning district on North Cassady, and helping work on the Main Street streetscape plan."