City of Oxford set to approve budget for 2021-22; residents to see tax decrease

Published 3:28 pm Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Oxford’s Board of Aldermen are set to approve the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and it includes good news for Oxford residents and city employees.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22 includes a decrease in the city’s millage rate, which translates to a small decrease in taxes for city residents. A first reading and public hearing of the proposed $40 million budget was held during the Board’s Aug. 17 meeting. A second reading and public hear is scheduled for the Sept. 7 meeting before voting to approve the budget on Sept. 21.

The new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2022.

City Clerk Ashley Atkinson said residents will see a small decrease in their property taxes and car tag payments if the proposed budget is approved next month.

The city’s millage rate will be 30.70, which is a decrease from the current rate of 31.22. The Oxford School District’s millage rate is set at 61.51 making the total millage rate for city residents 92.21 for the upcoming fiscal year.

The proposed budget also includes a raise for all city employees who were hired before April of this year. Those employees who are eligible can choose between either $2,500 or a four-percent raise, whichever is a higher amount for them, according to Mayor Robyn Tannehill.

“When we started the budget process, we asked, ‘What made us successful,’ during the first round of the pandemic, and our answer was ‘Our people– our residents and employees,” Tannehill said. “It was important for our Board to say ‘thank you.’”

The projected revenues, which come from fines, forfeits, governmental services, license and permits, ad valorem taxes and sales taxes, are projected to be $34.2 million. There is about $6.8 million in cash being rolled over.

Expenses are projected to be $40.6 million due to re-budgeting for items in each department that were put on hold during last year’s budget talks due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Oxford Police Department and Oxford Fire Department are responsible for the biggest amounts spent in the proposed budget. A requested $9.8 million by OPD includes the hiring of six new officers, with four of them being hired to the Downtown District patrol and two more to be worked into high call volume areas.

The Oxford Fire Department requested a budget of $6.3 million that covers the completion of the new fire station near Oxford Commons off F.D. Buddy “East” Parkway North. Also included in the budget is $776,187 for the new Animal Resource Center.

Infrastructure was a key component to this year’s budget $700,000 set aside for new access roads planned to connect Pegues Road to Ed Perry Boulevard and another connecting the Brittany Woods subdivision to the F.D. “Buddy” East Parkway. Improvements to Gator Road are also planned.

“The February snowstorm did not do our roadways and road equipment any favors,” Tannehill said.

In the coming fiscal year, Tannehill said the Board will begin holding discussions on a design for a new city swimming pool. The Oxford Park Commission has been patching the current city pool currently located on Washington Avenue the past few years.

“We will be starting to hold community meetings to hear what the community wants to see in a new pool,” Tannehill said.

Other projects the city is planning include a splash pad near the city’s skate park as well as the construction of a small park between city hall and Square Books Jr., where the current RSVP plaza sits.