Transcript of Mayor Robyn Tannehill’s speech at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting

Published 4:49 pm Friday, January 4, 2019

Below is the full transcript of the speech Mayor Robyn Tannehill gave as part of her mayor’s report at the Board of Aldermen meeting on Wednesday January 2, 2019.

The text of the speech was provided by Mayor Tannehill.

Welcome to the first meeting of 2019! A new year is always an exciting time … an opportunity to start with a fresh canvas if you will. Our community was extremely blessed over the past year and made positive progress in many areas … 2018 certainly was not without challenges but our community continues to thrive and we will continue to face challenges head-on and make difficult decisions all the while looking for every opportunity to improve the quality of life for our citizens.

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2018 was the first year of implementing our new Land Development Code. We will continue to make modifications and improvements to our code in the coming year.

We completed a large annexation that was finalized a few months ago. We will focus on providing services to those in our newly annexed areas during 2019. We will be focusing on zoning these new areas and redistricting appropriately in the coming months.

We began many construction projects in 2017 and 2018 that will come to fruition in 2019 … Activity Center, two new thoroughfares at West Oxford Loop and Sisk Avenue Extended and a Parking Garage. 2019 will find us moving forward on other road projects including the realignment of Azalea Drive/Office Park Drive at South Lamar…hopefully a road improvement and roundabouts at Sisk and Highway 7 and perhaps other projects as we seek to secure funding from State and Federal funds. We will be constructing a new water tower and making sewer and water treatment facility upgrades in 2019.

Oxford has for many years found ways to solve our own infrastructure challenges without help from the State or Federal Government. Over the past year and in the future, we will search for and explore every opportunity for alternate sources for funding of our infrastructure needs. We recognize Oxford as an economic driver in Mississippi and more particularly in North Mississippi. We will continue to carry our message to our State and Federal legislators that Oxford’s future can help drive the success of Mississippi, and their investment in our infrastructure will yield returns on every level.

A partnership with the county to build a new court facility that will serve us both began in 2018 and will see the Court Department moving out of City Hall this spring and locating in this new facility.

2018 saw the groundbreaking of an affordable housing development that will provide critical housing opportunities for our citizens. These 96 units are set to be ready in 2019. This Board passed an incentive plan for developers willing to build affordable housing in our community … we are the first community in Mississippi to take this step. We will continue in 2019 to work with local groups and organizations to find ways to make positive strides in the housing market. It is the strong desire of this Board that folks who work in Oxford be able to find housing in Oxford.

One of this Board’s achievements that I am most proud of is the unanimous vote to increase the minimum wage for full-time City of Oxford employees to $13 and hour. Increasing the pay of our employees is important to all of us.

2018 could well be sanctioned the year of department restructuring as we combined the Water and Sewer Department with the Electric Department to form Oxford Utilities.

We moved the grounds department from the Oxford Park Commission to the Building and Grounds Department.

We formed the Development Services Department combining the Planning, Building and Engineering Departments to streamline the building process.

As our community continues to grow so does the number of folks it takes to serve our community. The purpose of all the various restructuring I mentioned is to allow and promote the sharing of resources and knowledge and to place our people in roles that will allow them and Oxford to succeed as we continue to experience unprecedented growth. The more efficient we are the better it is for our employees and citizens.

We have named a new Director of Development Services, new City Engineer, new Assistant City Engineer, new Senior Building Inspector, new Planning Director, new Director of the Oxford Conference Center and new Fire Chief in 2018.

Our Environmental Services Department has continued to add equipment to allow us to serve our citizens more efficiently and will add more in 2019 along with more than 1,200 new customers.

FNC Park and Visit Oxford continue to thrive bringing visitors to our community. With the impact of online shopping decreasing our sales tax, these visitors become even more critical to our economy. The State Legislatures plan adopted in the special session late in 2018 regarding the diversion of the internet sales tax is extremely important to the Oxford community. The receipt of these funds is critical to us even if we don’t receive the full amount until 2021.

2018 saw the passage of an Alcohol Ordinance designed to address underage drinking that is now in effect. We will work in 2019 to continue to build relationships with bar and restaurant owners and address these problems together. We will also be asking the Legislature to help us in recognizing a difference in consumption and sales.

That is the short version – 2018 has been full but this Board has acted intentionally and with incredible amounts of public input. Our plan is to continue on that path. On behalf of this Board and myself, I want to thank the citizens of Oxford for allowing us to serve. And thank you is not enough but it’s all I know to say to the Department Heads and employees who invest their time, heart and soul into this community.