Budget process begins

Published 12:00 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

The Oxford Electric Department presented its budget for the 2017 fiscal year last week to the Oxford Board of Aldermen.

In the proposed budget, presented by Superintendent Rob Neely, OED estimat- ed total spending of $22,945,295, offset by expected revenues of $22,945,313.

OED’s largest expense is purchased power from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

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“The greatest challenge when preparing an annual budget is projecting electric sales revenue and purchased power expense,” Neely said. “I spend a considerable amount of time preparing estimates for FY2017’s energy costs, which causes the expenses and income of OED to rise and fall.”

More than 74 percent — or about $17 million — of OED’s revenues go toward paying TVA for energy.

OED has more than 40 percent of all of its primary electric facilities underground. Each year, OED increases that amount with the goal to eventually have all utilities underground where possible. Projects to move utilities underground for 2017 includes Joel Lane, Garner, Douglas/Williams, Haley and Scott Streets. In the 2016 fiscal year, the major projects OED completed were Highway 7, Jackson Avenue East and Stone Road.

The second largest project in 2017 will be the relocation of Price Street. Aldermen have approved plans to move the end of Price Street north to connect to Molly Barr Road closer to where the Oxford City Shop is located to give more room for a future expansion of the Oxford Activity Center. That project will cost $270,000 to move the utilities and convert them from overhead to underground.

Numerous other construction projects are currently underway to improve utility service throughout the OED system. These areas include Oxford Square Condominiums, North Lamar at Midtown Shopping Center, 17th Street and Stone Subdivision.

“These projects will be completed in Fiscal Year 2017, and additional projects will be prioritized and undertaken,” Neely said.

As of March 31, OED provides electric service to approximately 9,315 electric customers — 7,291 residences, 1,735 small commercial businesses, 225 medium commercial business, two large commercial businesses, 15 street and athletic areas and 47 lighting installations.

“This marks a 2.6 percent increase in electric customers over the calendar year,” Neely said.

The fiscal year for OED runs July 1 to June 30.

Most other city departments, the fiscal year runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1. They will begin presenting their budgets for review to the Board of Aldermen over the next couple of months. The final FY2017 budgets must be approved by Sept. 15.