Oxford plans no tax, fee increases

OXFORD – Mayor George “Pat” Patterson said Oxford residents, businesses and visitors could see “no tax increase, no fee increase anywhere” in the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2010.
Despite revenue projections that drop nearly $500,000 from last year’s $18.6 million collections, city officials have identified more than $1.1 million in possible cuts from departmental budget request.
“We’re going to have a (projected) cash balance of $900,000 and change,” Patterson said. “On a nearly $20 million budget, I can’t do much better.”
His remarks came Thursday when he and city aldermen met for a work session to prepare the new budget, which must be adopted by Sept. 15 and goes into effect Oct. 1.
Some cuts would be relatively easy, such as taking advantage of a glutted market to buy slightly used vehicles and equipment instead of new. City personnel will probably do some maintenance that might have been contracted out in flusher times.
Other slashing will be more painful, such as shifting employees from already thin crews to others where they are more direly needed.
Several items intact thus far in the budget process include $1 million for paving streets; $227,006 for the Oxford-University Transit system; $20,000 for a park in the Rivers Hill neighborhood; and a new building and renovation of the baby pool at the city pool complex.
Most of the city’s 358 employees will get a 1.5 percent cost-of-living-allowance (COLA) pay increase, with a few awarded modest merit increases. Ward 6 Alderman Brad Mayo suggested future budgets offer more incentive pay for exceptional work.
“I’m less a COLA guy and more of a meritorious-pay-increase guy,” he said.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal