Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bexley, Ohio. City Councilman Ben Kessler interviewed for WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM.

An interview with Bexley City Councilman Ben Kessler will be broadcast Tuesday through Friday in the noon to 1:00 p.m. time slot on WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM.

The interview was conducted by Timothy Nassau a student intern at WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM. Nassau is a senior at Bexley High School.

The Kessler interview includes discussion of issues facing the City of Bexley including Bexley police facilities, municipal finance and the use of paid consultants by the city government.

The councilman is also working on the Capital University proposal for zoning variance for the Sheridan Avenue condominiums.

The councilman said that city finance issues are receiving attention. Estate taxes pay on average about ten percent of the city budget or about one million dollars. The difficulty that the estate tax presents is that the proceeds are not predictable.

Kessler proposes using estate tax proceeds as a fund for capital improvements.

Kessler also said that there is a misperception in the public that Bexley has a lot of tax revenue. Unlike other municipalities, Bexley does not have large tax revenue based on commercial activities. Kessler then offered a comparison of tax revenues per resident in some other localities. Taxes per resident in Bexley are about $700 per year. For Whitehall the comparable figure is $1,000. In Worthington and Upper Arlington, tax revenue per resident is about $1,300.

As to the proposed new police station and relocation, the councilman said that there was public concern that the proposed northern location will reduce the density of police patrols in central and south Bexley. He said that if there is an effect it will be during brief periods when shifts are changed.

Kessler said that serving alcohol at Jeffrey Mansion was a campaign issue of interest to a relatively small number of residents. Although a relatively small number, the strength of their feelings on the issue made them an important part of the process. Ninety nine percent of people Kessler talks to are in favor of serving alcohol at Jeffrey Mansion. Kessler said that the Jeffrey Mansion Commission will make a proposal on the matter. He said that the second important issue about Jeffrey Mansion is the finance of repairs.

Nassau then asked about a movement for a Green Bexley. Kessler said that there isn't a specific Green proposal for Bexley but he thinks that the police station relocation involves green issues. Demolition of an existing building raises a question of getting full use out of materials in the existing structure and also disposal of those materials. He also discussed international standards for green certification of new structures. Kessler said that an advantage of the Delmar proposed site is that the new police building can be designed green.

Nassau asked about Kessler's campaign platform commitment to make it easier for citizens to get involved in local government. Kessler said that he has been in touch with the city zoning officer about placing a sign in front of the city building to announce council meetings. He said that the information that will be on the sign is currently available online. He said that the agenda for a council meeting is now available on line. He said other public documents are now available online. Kessler said that these improvements in public access are just taking the city's existing information infrastructures and populating it with information. Councilman Kessler invited comments from residents at bkessler@bexley.org.

When Nassau asked about public attendance at council meetings, Kessler said that typical attendance is five to ten residents. HE also said that some topics attract more residents to council meetings. As an example, he offered the Capital University zoning variance proposal which attracted about fifty residents to the council meeting.

Nassau and Kessler then had a brief discussion of the relative importance of national and state elections in effecting local communities. Kessler observed that state elections are more likely to quickly influence local matters. He offered an example where a new state law loosened residency requirements that quickly has an adverse impact on Bexley tax revenues.

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