By Alyssa Schnugg
Despite a rocky year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxford department heads buckled down and reduced their budgets allowing for a 2% decrease in the city’s overall expenses for the fiscal year 2020-2021.
During a public hearing on the budget Tuesday at City Hall, City Clerk Ashley Atkinson reported that there will be no tax increase for Oxford homeowners.
“Our millage rate will remain the same, as will the Oxford School District’s millage rate, so there will be no increase,” she said.
The city’s millage rate will remain at 31.22 in the upcoming fiscal year which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.
The projected revenues, which come from fines, forfeits, governmental services, license and permits, ad valorem taxes and sales taxes are projected to be $33.2 million – down from $30 million that was budgeted for 2019-2020, which is a 7% decrease – with $5,190,029 in cash on hand expected to be rolled over from this year’s budget. Expenses are projected to be $36 million – down from $36.8 million in 2019-2020.
Taxes bring in the most revenue with $11,296,542 projected for 2021. Ad valorem taxes are expected to bring in $9,488,070 and sales tax should bring in $8.9 million. Some other revenue sources include water and sewer bills, licenses and permits, recycling and the city’s swimming pool.
The biggest chunk of change out of the budget goes to the Oxford Fire Department that submitted an $8.5 million budget. The Oxford Police Department is second highest with a $7.8 million budget.
The Highways and Streets Department has a $3.2 million budget.
“Everyone was really cautious of what we needed to do,” Atkinson said. “Most departments came in flat or lower than the previous year. There were not a lot of ‘wants’ but a whole bunch of ‘needs.’”
The aldermen have met several times throughout the summer in budget meetings to rehash the budgets submitted by each department.
“The Board and department heads have spent untold hours in getting us to this point,” said Mayor Robyn Tannehill. “They understood the financial pinch we’re in, and they shaved down as many expenses as they could resulting in our budget being down this year.”
No one spoke on the matter during the public hearing.
The Board will vote on the proposed budget during its next meeting at 5 p.m. on Sept. 15.