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Oxford Board of Aldermen begin budget hearings

The first of several budget hearings planned over the next three weeks began Monday for the Oxford Board of Aldermen and Mayor Robyn Tannehill as they met with several department heads to review their projected budgets for the 2018 fiscal year.

At the start of Monday’s meeting, Tannehill said projected revenues for the year are expected to be about $27 million and that later on in the budget process, the board will consider either a 1.5 or 2.0 cost of living raise for city employees once the final revenue numbers are available later this month.

On Monday, the board met with department heads from Emergency Management, Human Resources, Building and Grounds, Building Department and the Planning Department, as well the Oxford & Lafayette County Public Library and Family Crisis Services who requested funds from the city for their operations.

Most of the city department budgets presented Monday remained about the same as last year with slight increases or in some cases, decreases, like for the Building Department.

Building Official Randy Barber submitted his $346,978 budget, which is down 4.5 percent from the fiscal year 2017 budget.

However, the Building Department is funded through permit fees. From Oct. 1 through July 30, Barber said the department has collected $894,490 in build permit fees that represented a valuation of about $140 million in development in Oxford.

Permits for single-family houses have dropped slightly with 98 permits being issued as of July 30 compared to 132 last year. However, the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30 and more permits could be issued over the next two months.

Duplexes jumped this year with 244 permits being issues compared to 67 last fiscal year.

Sixty-nine commercial permits have been issued so far this year compared to 81 last year. Residental pools were popular this year with 16 permits issued to homeowners building in-ground pools, compared to six last year.

Barber said his staff has conducted 3,700 building inspections since Oct. 1.

Other budgets reviewed Monday include:

•Buildings and Grounds with its $866,607 budget, down 3 percent from last year’s $894,607 budget

•Emergency Management with its $168,585 budget, down 19 percent from last year’s $209,184 budget

•Human Resources with its $398,508 budget, up 2 percent from last year’s $389,526 budget

•Planning Department with its $464,396 budget, down 8 percent from last year’s $504,596 budget

•Oxford & Lafayette County Public Library is requesting $321,000 toward its budget, up 2.2 percent from last year’s request of $314,000 due to state funding cuts.

•Family Crisis Services is requesting $18,000 from the city for its budget, up 20 percent from last year’s $15,000 request due to an increase of services being offered.

Budget meetings will continue next week. Check the EAGLE for times or www.oxfordms.net.