At a special meeting in July, Bexley City Council is scheduled to revisit the issue of whether to place a new levy on the November ballot that city officials say would help keep up with the cost of repairing and reconstructing streets, alleys and sidewalks.
Council members agreed to the special meeting, to be held on a date to be determined, while discussing the issue during their June 26 meeting.
The debate centered on the pros and cons of proceeding with the levy in the event that council's vote to place the levy on the ballot is not unanimous. After some discussion, council voted to table the resolution that would place the levy on the ballot.
Although the city has other options, such as borrowing money for road construction projects, the purpose of the levy would be to plan ahead for street maintenance over the next several years, said Councilman Steve Keyes, chairman of the Finance Committee and sponsor of the resolution.
"We're trying to be proactive so that we're not coming back, asking the public for money in two years" when certain streets might be rapidly deteriorating, Keyes said.
"One thing I think we don't want to do is be divided as a council or as a city," he said.
Keyes, Council President Lori Ann Feibel and council members Mary Gottesman, Monique Lampke, Troy Markham and Richard Sharp said they supported moving forward with the levy. However, Councilman Tim Madison said he would not vote to place the levy on the ballot because he believes council members and city officials should exercise more fiscal discipline.
Madison said he voted against the city's past two annual budgets because he opposed expenses such as developing athletics fields in the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in southwest Bexley and hiring an arborist, a recreation supervisor and a communications specialist.
"We're spending money we didn't need to spend," Madison said.
"Now we're in a situation, which I think is a crisis situation ... and it's a result of city council, at least for the six years I've been on it, not making prudent decisions," he said.
Bexley Mayor Ben Kessler said he will prepare money-saving proposals for council members to discuss at the July special meeting.
Proceeding with placing the levy on the ballot without a unanimous council vote could cause residents to question the necessity of the measure, Kessler said.
Without a unanimous council vote, "we're setting ourselves up for an unfortunate environment," he said.
Kessler said an existing 2.5-mill permanent streets levy that voters approved in 2002 generates $843,856 annually, but the cost of street maintenance is estimated at $1.4 million per year.
As proposed, the new 3.5-mill levy being considered would replace the 2.5-mill permanent levy if it were to be approved.
According to the city's estimates, the 3.5-mill levy would generate approximately $780,000 in new funding per year and would cost property owners an estimated additional $50 per $100,000 of property valuation. The proposal also includes nonrenewal of a 3.4-mill city operating levy that voters approved in 1975 and would come up for a vote to be renewed in 2020.