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Budget brings city-wide improvements

Several improvements are in store for Oxford as city officials prepare to finalize the 2016-2017 budget.     

The Oxford Board of Aldermen reviewed the city’s $29 million 2016-2017 fiscal year budget during a recessed meeting Tuesday morning, which included a 1-mill tax raise and a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for all city employees.

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

“We’re in about as good as shape as we’ve ever been,” said Mayor Pat Patterson.

The 1 mill raise will take the millage rate to 30.22.

The rate remained the same for about 10 years. Then, in 2014, the aldermen agreed to raise it 1 mill for three years to help pay for new roads and other major capital projects.

The city’s 2 percent food and beverage tax is projected to bring in about $1.2 million.

The board reviewed the list of proposed projects that will be paid for with those funds, including $500,000 for putting turf on FNC Park’s fields; $225,000 for a sweeper truck for the Square; a viewing pavilion at the John Leslie Tennis Facility for $100,000; $75,000 for the demolition of the former central fire station on North Lamar Boulevard and Price Street; $60,000 for renovations to the bathrooms at the Powerhouse; $20,000 to the LQC Lamar Foundation; $40,000 toward Woodland Park; $40,000 toward the old RSVP building next to City Hall; $60,000 for equipment for OPD to be used on the Square for crowd control; and $35,000 for additional chairs and tables and a shipping container on a concrete pad at the Oxford Conference Center.

The projected revenue also includes $931,697 from the $30 million Baptist investment, which will go toward several projects, including expanding the Jefferson Avenue and North Lamar Boulevard intersection, realigning Azalea Drive, sidewalks on Johnson Avenue, a roundabout at the intersection of College Hill Road and McElroy Drive and a new recycling building.

While the city is in good financial shape, the aldermen still had some choices to make Tuesday on whether to fund some requests from city departments who submitted several “wish list” items in case there was extra money in the budget.

Environmental Services, which include solid waste collection, recycling and rights-of-way maintenance, submitted several equipment requests.

The aldermen approved a new street sweeper, recycling truck and a garbage truck with rear loader, but denied the request for a roll-off truck, garbage truck with front loader, a truck with automated arm and a new knuckle-boom truck.

“Not saying they don’t need these, but they’re a lot of money,” Patterson said. “They can come back next year and we can do this in phases.”

Expected revenues

The projected revenues, which come from fines, forfeits, governmental services, licenses and permits, ad valorem taxes and sales taxes, is projected to be $27,581,052 with $1,858,303 in cash on hand expected to be rolled over from this year’s budget.

Expenses are $29,636,120 and include the across-the-board 1.5 percent raises.

Sales tax brings in the most revenue with $8,636,690 projected for 2016.

Ad valorem taxes are expected to bring in $6,123,325 and government services should bring in $3,467,500.

Some of those revenue sources include water and sewer bills, recycling and the city’s swimming pool.

The biggest chunk of change out of the budget goes to the Oxford Police Department, which submitted a budget of $6,486,361 that included seven new patrol cars for $190,000.

Oxford Fire Department requested $4,725,890 this year.

The University of Mississippi reimburses the city about $150,000 for fire protection on campus.

A public hearing will be held in September before the aldermen officially adopt the 2016-2017 budget.