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Aldermen approve $29M budget

The Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the $29 million 2015-2016 fiscal year budget during its regular meeting Tuesday that included a 1-mill tax raise.

The aldermen approved the budget that already included a $35,000 amendment for the Oxford Historic Properties Commission. Earlier in the meeting, the board approved spending the funds to relocate the historic Skipwith Cottage from next to City Hall to a spot across from the Oxford and Lafayette County Public Library adjacent to the Skate Park. The home is being moved to allow for repairs to the city offices located under the house that were damaged from a leaking roof.

No other last-minute changes were added to the budget and there was little comment before Mayor Pat Patterson called for a vote. Alderman Jason Bailey thanked Patterson and City Clerk Lisa Carwyle for their hard work on the budget.

The aldermen have met several times throughout the summer in budget meetings to rehash the budgets submitted by each department.

The 1-mill raise will take the millage rate to 29.22. The rate remained the same for about 10 years. In 2014, the aldermen agreed to raise it 1 mill for three years to help pay for new roads and other major capital projects. It’s only gone up about 5 mills total since 1995 when it was 24.25.

Out of the millage rate, 67 percent goes toward city schools, 21.55 percent goes toward the city’s general fund, 6.67 percent goes to help pay back city bonds and 1 percent goes to the Oxford and Lafayette County Public Library.

Patterson said recently he expects a small millage raise next year.

The projected revenues, which come from fines, forfeits, governmental services, license and permits, ad valorem taxes and sales taxes, is projected to be $26,799,908 with $1,760,260 in cash on hand expected to be rolled over from this year’s budget. Expenses are $28,931,309 and include the across-the-board 2 percent raises.

Sales tax brings in the most revenue with $8,126,491 projected for 2016. Ad valorem taxes are expected to bring in $6,389,620 and government services should bring in $3,420,000. Some of those revenue sources include water and sewer bills, recycling and the city’s swimming pool.

About 63 percent of the budget includes payroll and benefits for employees. Capital outlay is 10 percent, services and other charges are 16 percent and supplies are 11 percent of the budget.

Expected expenditures

The biggest chunk of change out of the budget goes to the Oxford Police Department that submitted a budget of $6,116,097 that included purchasing eight new patrol cars and hiring five new officers. The general government budget is $4.4 million. Sanitation and Recycling is $3.6 million and OPD and FNC combined have a $2.8 million budget.

Oxford Fire Department requested $4,375,826 this year with $112,000 going toward the purchase of a new radio system.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

— Held the second reading and public hearing on a raise in building and electrical permit fees. No public comment was made.

— Approved spending $35,0000 on moving Skipwith Cottage from near City Hall to property across from the Oxford and Lafayette County Public Library.

— Approved allowing the University of Mississippi Athletic Department to host its annual Square Jam on Oct. 9.

— Approved a request to allow Chancellor Hotel contractors to pour concrete from 12 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Monday.

— Approved allowing developers of Jackson Row to return to the Oxford Planning Commission to seek a new special exception to allow residential zoning in a commercially zoned area despite the moratorium that they placed on special exceptions and rezoning requests in August. Jackson Row was given the special exception previously by the commission but it came with some requirements; one being to start construction by June 1 of this year. However, there were some “issues” with the building plans and once they were worked out with city staff, the deadline had past. The moratorium is in place until the board approves the city’s new Comprehensive Plan, Vision 2037.

— Accepted the FNC Tennis Center and John Leslie Courts for maintenance and authorized the final payment to the ANCO Construction Inc. The contractor was 48 days over his contract and they were charged $400 a day for liquid damages. The final payment was about $63,000 after $19,200 was taken out for the overtime.

— Approved crediting Dell Condominiums $1,300 toward its lawn watering water bill after a leak was discovered.

— Approved the $408,748 budget of the Lafayette County Metro Narcotics Unit. The city, county and University of Mississippi each pay $100,000 a year for the unit. The rest is covered by grants and the sale of seized items during drug investigations.

— Approved the budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 and declared the millage rate at 87.89 which includes 29.22 for city government and 58.67 for schools.

— Approved step and merit pay increases for several employees in the Fire, Police, Public Works and Building and Grounds departments.