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Bexley may earmark leftover estate tax
Ohio collects an estate tax when people die and their property transfers to their heirs. Bexley receives a portion of that money.
City auditor Larry Heiser plans to earmark a portion of Bexley's share to repay the city's debt.
Every year, the city estimates how much money it will receive from the estate tax and includes that amount into the budget. If the city receives less money than estimated, a back-up fund has been established.
If the city receives more money than estimated, no protocol is in place to dictate what to do with the extra money, therefore it enters the general fund by default.
Heiser prefers that the extra money would enter a capitol improvements account that could only be used for future building projects or to repay existing debt such as that incurred for the new police station (expected to open in December 2009).
Councilman Mark Masser expressed concern about placing the funds into an account specified for capitol improvement projects only.
"My fear is that we will run out of operating money," Masser said. "We will have (the funds in the capitol improvements account) but we can't touch that money. Then we can't pay our employees."
City attorney Lou Chodosh said the council could vote in the future to eliminate the account and thus free the money for other purposes.
Masser questioned the need for the account if it could be eliminated anyway.
Councilwoman Robyn Jones put the proposal in the perspective of a personal retirement account.
"I have a 401K," Jones said. "I would spend it if it didn't come out of my check. History has shown us that we (the city) would spend it."
The council plans to discuss the issue further at the next finance committee meeting on Feb. 10.
• The city received a letter from Angelique Smith who credits city employees Janet Mercurio and Jerry McCain with "basically saving our house."
On Jan. 20, Mercurio noticed a large spike in the water usage at Smith's home consistent with a water line burst.
McCain investigated and could not find an outside leak.
The Smiths were in Washington, D.C. attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama, but Mercurio was able to contact them and a family friend arrived with a key.
A large pipe had burst in the basement and was quickly filling the house with water, which McCain stopped.
Service director Bill Harvey said that Mercurio makes 25 to 30 calls per week to warn people of odd spikes in their water usage.
"Especially this time of year - pipes break," Harvey said.
• A special public hearing will be held on Feb. 3 at 6:30 p.m. to discuss possible changes to the city's garbage policy.
As the code currently reads, it is against the law for someone to remove a discarded item from a Bexley curb.
Robert Jessberger, who collects refurbished discarded items such as toys and vacuums, wants the law changed.
• At 5:30 p.m. Feb. 10, the safety committee will hear from a resident who wants to keep more dogs than the city's limit of three. Previously, her lawyer had agreed with the city that she could keep the dogs until February with no penalty, but after that she would follow the three-dog minimum, Chodosh said.
The woman rallied her neighbors to sign a petition allowing her to keep indefinitely five dogs that she has rescued.
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