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Bexley taking second look at luxuries in city budget
The Bexley city council is taking on the difficult task of figuring out a budget for next year.
Finance Committee Chair Robyn Jones said the poor economy has made a problematic financial situation more urgent.
"It was an issue, but we thought we'd have more time, we thought it wasn't going to get bad this quickly," she said.
She cited lack of industry in Bexley, cuts in state funds and lower tax revenue as contributing to the problem. Expenses for salaries and services also are rising.
The Finance Committee was waiting to make some of its choices, Jones said, until speaking with all the department heads. They have now gone through that process and can now try to figure out what to cut.
"At this point," she said in an e-mail message during the first week of December, "there is no consensus among council members about what is best to cut, but there is consensus that we must make the hard decisions."
She said they will not look at tax increases until they have done all they can to balance the budget, so residents can expect reductions in services.
"We need to make sure that the essential services remain in place," Jones said, "and take a second look at what I consider luxuries. If the residents really want those luxuries that's terrific, but they're going to have to realize that it's going to cost them more."
Jones listed essentials as public safety, including the police department, streets, and infrastructure.
"We can't do without those," she said.
Beyond the annual budget, Jones was optimistic the financial task force recently formed from the community would come up with some good ideas.
The task force is looking for ways to both cut costs and increase revenue. Jones said revenue increases wouldn't necessarily need to come from taxes.
"Maybe they'll be creative and come up with something we haven't thought of," she said.
"We are so fortunate that so many people have been willing to step up and give us their time and their energy and their expertise," she said.
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