By Alyssa Schnugg
If you had $10 million to spend, how would you spend it? What about $15 million?
That is what the Oxford Board of Aldermen has been tasked to ponder after a special meeting on Tuesday that focused on prioritizing upcoming projects.
City Clerk Ashley Atkinson told the Board that the city’s borrowing capacity currently is a little less than $23 million.
That’s how much the city could borrow; however, Mayor Robyn Tannehill and the other Board members agreed it is not in the city’s best interest to borrow the full $22+ million.
“We certainly don’t want to reach that capacity in the event something unexpected happens,” Tannehill said.
Some of the projects discussed at length Tuesday morning included renovations to the older Oxford Activity Center for office space for the planning and engineering departments; renovations to the parking lot behind City Grocery to beautiful, clean, restripe, add trash collectors and a new grease trap; converting the Oxford Enterprise building into a new Oxford Police Department; Pegues Road extension to the F.D. Buddy East Parkway; Mounted Patrol Barn; renovations and possible expansion of the Oxford Conference Center; mTrade Park expansion; renovations to the current Oxford Police Department building for Oxford Park Commission use; a new city pool; renovations to the City Shop and improvements to the University Avenue/Highway 7 interchange.
Some of the projects come with high price tags, largely due to current construction costs.
Chief Operating Officer Bart Robinson presented an example of what could be paid for if the Board decided to borrow $10 million or $15 million.
If the Board applies for $10 million in bonds, that would pay for the renovations of the Oxford Activity Center (older building), the City Grocery parking lot, the OPD/Enterprise project; Pegues Road expansion and preliminary dirt work for the mTrade Park Expansion.
If the city borrowed $15 million, it could also pay for renovations to the pool, a new horse barn for the Mounted Patrol and renovations to the current OPD building for OPC’s use.
“That’s just an example,” he said.
Some of the projects have state and federal funds allocated to them like the University Avenue/Highway 7 interchange.
Borrowing $10-15 million in bonds could cause about a 1 millage increase to taxes; however; Tannehill said it’s too soon to make that call as budget hearings for the next fiscal year are “around the corner” and mills can be moved around and adjusted.
Alderman John Morgan suggested allowing the Board time to look over their packets of information and rate the projects they feel should be in a top 5 or so priority list.
Regardless of how projects will be rated in order of importance to the Board, it does not necessarily mean those projects will be started in the 2022/2023 fiscal year since the budget has not yet been put together for that year for all city departments. Budget hearings generally take place around July with the budget being approved in early September. The fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30.