By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council unanimously approved a $3.5 budget for 2014 on Dec. 16. The millage rate is increasing from 11.50 mills to 12 mills to support the spending plan, which was impacted the most by rising insurance costs.
Borough council also approved 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 one percent across the board.
A new contract between the borough and the police department was also finalized and approved. Council president Ron Hershey said that the negotiations were cordial on the new five-year pact, which was finalized two weeks before the current deal ends. There will be 3 percent increases in salaries for police officers for each of the next five years, according to Hershey. There are new rules for new hires that will put a cap on longevity pay and new hires will also pay 5 percent on their medical premiums.
Police Chief John Slauch, who is not covered in the new contract, said that the police department has 10 full-time officers and five part-time officers who are affected by the agreement.
Oxford Borough Council unanimously approved a series of agreements with the Lighthouse Youth Center that will pave the way for the construction of a new and larger center on Commerce Street, not far from the center’s present location on Third Street.
“After you approve this…we start moving dirt as soon as the excavator can come in,” said Lighthouse executive director Buzz Tyson.
Tyson officially announced plans for the expansion in April of 2012, citing increased needs in the community for services that the Lighthouse provides. The new youth center will be more than twice the size of the current one and will include a full-court gym, a computer lab, and a cafeteria that will seat more than 75 people. It is situated on a 3.9-acre parcel.
The Housing Authority of Chester County is asking the borough to waive the rental inspection fees on the units that they have in the borough.
Oxford Borough’s solicitor, Patrick McKenna, said that he reached out to the Housing Authority about two years ago over nonpayment of the rental inspection fees.
The Housing Authority has 24 units in the borough and would pay about $720 every two years in rental fees if they were paying them.
McKenna said that he was told that the three other communities in Chester County that have Housing Authority units—Coatesville, Phoenixville, and West Chester—waive the fees because the Housing Authority is a governmental agency.
Council had a lengthy discussion about whether to waive the fees, with several council members concerned that the inspections need to be done.
“I’d say no to the waiver because this involves public safety,” said council member Randy Teel.
A new date has been set for the informational meeting regarding the Oxford Historic District ordinance that is being considered. The meeting had been scheduled for Dec. 10, but was cancelled due to inclement weather. The meeting will now tentatively take place on Tuesday, Jan. 21. New council members will be sworn in in early January and the date will be finalized at that time.
Oxford Mayor Geoff Henry presented plaques to Jamie Cole, Sherry Andrews, and Walter Saranetz for their service to the community as they attended their last meeting as council members.
Oxford Borough Council approved the appointments of Ryan Matlack and Kevin Blakey to the Oxford Historical Commission.
A resolution supporting PA Senate Bill 1164 was approved by council. This bill, which was passed by the state senate earlier this month, would change the state law so that immunity could be granted in most instances to people who call “911” for another person who has suffered an overdose. The resolution will be forwarded to elected officials at the state level so that they know that the borough has formally supported the bill. Numerous other states have passed so-called “good Samaritan” legislation in an effort to reduce the number of deaths attributed to drug overdoses.