By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council is expected to approve a $3.5 million budget for 2014 at next Monday night's council meeting.
The proposed 2014 budget now stands at $3,531,503.91, according to Artemis Anderson, the borough's treasurer, after officials received the remaining insurance costs that were still unknown when the borough council held budget discussions in November. Higher health insurance costs have been cited by borough officials as having significant impact on the 2014 spending plan.
If the borough council approves the budget as is, the tax rate will increase from 11. 5 mills to 12 mills. A tax increase to 12 mills would add $87.50 to the tax bill for the owner of a home assessed at $175,000.
Oxford Borough is anticipating a 2 percent increase in water rates—from $25.50 to $26—for homeowners who use up to 5,000 gallons per quarter. All the other water rates will increase by 1 percent across the board, according to the proposal. The water ordinance establishing the rates for 2014 is also expected to be adopted at the Dec. 16 meeting.
In other business at Monday night's meeting, Oxford Borough Council approved advertising a Parking Fines and Meter Times Ordinance that will establish new times for the enforcement of the parking meter fees. Council member Jamie Cole said that once the ordinance goes into effect parking meters will be monitored Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Fines for parking meter violations will now be $15, an increase of $5 over the current fines. There will be an additional $25 fine for those who don’t respond to the initial parking meter fine.
Officials said that even at $15 the parking fines are among the lowest in the county. Police Chief John Slauch, who was an officer in the department back in the 1970s, noted that parking fines were $10 at that time so there hasn't been an increase in a very long time.
Cole said that a primary goal of the Parking Fines and Meter Times Ordinance is to encourage motorists to adhere to rules for the parking spots and keep those spots available for people who are visiting the town’s shops and restaurants. Some people have been leaving their cars parked in the limited number of spaces available for long periods of time and increased enforcement should help with that.
The borough is working on developing a Pavement Management Program that will establish a schedule for doing the necessary road repairs on all the borough's streets.
John Schaible, the borough’s supervisor of public works, said that the borough should expect to have about $300,000 in street repairs each year. It will be up to the borough council as to how much can actually be spent on street repairs in any given year.
Borough manager Betsy Brantner said that such a program could help the borough acquire grants for streetscape projects in the future.
“They want to see that you have looked at all your roads and are taking care of the most serious repairs,” she said.
Borough council accepted the resignation of George Guss, the borough’s Codes Enforcement Officer.
Oxford Borough Council approved Linnea Raffaele, Walter Saranetz, and Geoffrey Henry to the planning commission for terms that run from 2014 to 2017.
In his report, Mayor Geoff Henry said that he hopes that Oxford will soon organize a New Year's Eve event that will include the lowering of either a large Tastykake or a large Herr's potato chip in honor of the area's two largest businesses. Henry noted that many more towns are planning these kinds of events to welcome the New Year. Kennett Square will be lowering a giant mushroom for the first time this year.
Oxford Borough Council has a meeting scheduled for Monday, Dec. 16. After that, borough council will reconvene again on Jan. 6, 2014 for the reorganization meeting. The council members who won election in November will be sworn into office that night and new officers will be elected for 2014.