Bexley's 2021 budget includes funding for police community programs

Chris Bournea
ThisWeek
City of Bexley

On Dec. 8, Bexley City Council voted 7-0 to approve $15.2 million in general fund expenditures for the city’s 2021 budget.  

Next year’s budget includes a new line item for the police department: $20,000 for community programs. 

The allotment will help the police department continue outreach programs such as the Bexley Citizen Review Advisory Board (CRB) that are designed to enhance relations between police and the community, Mayor Ben Kessler said.   

More: View the city of Bexley's budget for 2021

“We’ve been really active on equity and justice initiatives this year,” he said. “We're going to be launching the expanded CRB in 2021.”  

Council voted 7-0 on Oct. 13 to approve Ordinance 38-20, which codified the CRB that Kessler created with an executive order in June. Kessler said he created the board in response to the national dialogue on how to improve police-community relations in the aftermath of the Minneapolis police-involved death of George Floyd on May 25. The board is charged with reviewing complaints pertaining to unlawful discrimination or bias directed by city employees that are under appeal to the mayor. Ordinance 38-20 expands the board from the three current members to a total of five members and establishes three-year terms for each member.  

The $20,000 set aside in the police department’s budget also will go toward continuing “listening sessions” between police and community members that the city began in August, Kessler said.

The sessions allow community members to share their stories of interactions with police, and for police officers to listen and learn from those experiences and provide insight into their own perspectives, Kessler said. 

“We’ll be continuing dialogue that we’ve been having with community equity groups,” he said. “There’s been a lot of conversation about police practices and how can we change police practice and policy in different areas. We’ve been listening intently to that, and we’re working with groups to craft responses and to come up with reforms that our community serving and their justice motivated.” 

The city did not experience a major downturn in revenues in 2020, but the 2021 general fund budget is a decrease from 2020’s $16.4 million budget, Kessler said. 

“We’re being really cautions. We’re anticipating a drop in revenue based on the pandemic. We haven’t experienced that yet, but our revenues tend to lag,” he said. “We’re looking at how our revenues came in during the Great Recession (of 2008) and have budgeted accordingly.” 

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