Monday, August 15, 2022

Tax Decrease, City Employee Raises, New Projects in Proposed 2021-22 Oxford Budget

The Oxford Board of Aldermen is proposing a small decrease in the city’s millage rate along with raises for all full-time employees in the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget.

The first reading of the proposed $40 million budget was held last week during the Board’s regular meeting. A second public hearing is set for 5 p.m. on Sept. 7 at City Hall.

City Clerk Ashley Atkinson said the Board approved a .52 millage decrease, which amounts to about $250,000 in tax revenue.

“City taxpayers will see their property taxes and car tags go down slightly,” she said during the meeting.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill also announced that all city employees hired before April will get a raise.

“They will have the choice of receiving $2,500 or a 4-percent raise – whichever is higher for them,” she said. “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 … It was important for our Board to say ‘thank you.’”

The city mill rate will be 30.70. The Oxford School District mill rate is 61.51 making the total millage rate for city residents 92.21 for the upcoming fiscal year. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 to 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 $34.2 million. There is about $6.8 million in cash being rolled over.

Expenses are projected to be $40.6 million.

“The increase is mostly due to re-budgeting for items put on hold and not purchased last year due to COVID-19,” Atkinson said.

Taxes bring in the most revenue with $10.2 million expected in ad valorem taxes and sales tax should bring in $10.8 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 Police Department that submitted a budget of $9.8 million budgeted. The Fire Department has a $6.3 million budget that includes a new fire station in Oxford Commons. New to the city’s budget this upcoming fiscal year will be $776,187 for the new Animal Resource Center.

The city also gains funds from the 2 percent food and beverage tax that helps to fund projects and departments that focus on bringing tourism to Oxford. This year the projected revenue from the 2 percent tax is $3.4 million and an additional $440,000 is expected from the Hotel/Motel tourism tax.

Tannehill announced some of the projects the city will be taking on during the upcoming fiscal year, which includes the design of a new city pool.

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

Other projects include a splash pad at the city’s Skate Park, turf on the remaining two fields at mTrade Park, a small park between City Hall and Square Books Jr., new software for the planning, engineering and building departments, improvements to Gator Road and designing new roads connecting Pegues Road to Ed Perry Boulevard and another connecting the Brittany Woods subdivision to the F.D. Buddy East Parkway.

“The February snowstorm did not do our roadways and road equipment any favors,” Tannehill said. “We are setting aside $700,000 for paving projects to ahead on our road needs.”


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