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Oxford Keeps Conference Center and Staff, Wants Another Double Decker Bus

oxford-ms-0882The city will hang on to its Oxford Conference Center and keep the same management team in place to run it.
The city created a committee last year to decide if the city needed to continue running a center that was losing money. Members dedicated the past year to reviewing the center’s operations, put out a call for requests for proposals and considered whether an outside management group was a better choice.
Alderman Ulysses “Coach” Howell was complimentary about the committee’s final findings and the outcome.
“You all made a wise decision,” Howell said.
The board received an RFP from The Wilderman Group, a conference center management group located in Charleston, S.C.
“The RFP wasn’t the best thing for the city,” said Alderman John Morgan during the board meeting. “Some things are just needed to give back to the community.”
Board members made it clear that they are happy with budget cuts and improvements made by Hollis Green, director of the Conference Center.
“When you compliment me, you are really complimenting the staff,” Green said.
Making an offer on a Double Decker bus
The city is one step closer to buying a new Double Decker bus, one of two that city employee Bo Ragon and Alderman Jay Hughes viewed while in Los Angeles.
Ragon recommended the city make an offer on the second bus he inspected, which meets California street requirements and is significantly less costly than the second bus.
The city has decided to make a formal offer of $45,000 for the open-top bus, in addition to any transportation costs to bring it to Oxford.
Ragon said the vehicle is structurally sound and is presently used for tours on Long Beach in Los Angeles. Staff there complete preventative maintenance reports each morning on the city’s historical buses.
A second bus was available for $59,000, but was in bad shape, Ragon said.
The process of buying the vehicle would take at least 30 days to get started, because of requirements on the seller’s side. According to previous stories, the center loses about $350,000 each year, and eight years are left on the bond term. The original 2002 bond for construction was about $6 million, and with interest the city continues to pay about $380,000 each year on the bond. Any funding needed to cover gaps comes from the 2 percent Food and Beverage Tax. For next year’s budget, Green expects he’ll only need $175,000 from that tax.
Pedicab Inspections Coming Up
Each pedicab operating in town will need to meet higher safety standards in the near future.
The city wants each vehicle to have a reflective triangle located on the read bumper, two to six feet above ground. Each triangle must be 16 inches by 14 inches or larger.
Chief Joey East, of the Oxford Police Department, plans to call in all pedicabs for inspections to ensure each one has a light on the back of the vehicle that’s visible 500 feet away.
The city also:

  • Approved using an online payment system to take deposits from people renting a Double Decker bus.
  • Approved a new name, Oxford Square Boulevard, for the road into Oxford Square Townhomes.
  • OK’d a new fire contract with the University of Mississippi for the next 40 years.
  • Had a first reading to rezone 1201 Ivy Road, off North Lamar Boulevard from residential to neighborhood business.
  • Approved the retirement of K9s Baraka and Bo, and sold them to their handlers for $1.

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