Officials say no tax increase is expected in Oxford Borough
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough officials discussed the preliminary budget for 2017 at the council meeting on Monday night, and the good news for residents is that there is no tax increase proposed in the spending plan.
Borough manager Brian Hoover said that the general fund budget totals $3,358,615. As it stands now, the spending plan projects a surplus of approximately $75,000. Officials have been working out any issues with specific line items in the budget, and the numbers have been fairly consistent during recent weeks.
“The preliminary budget hasn't changed since we last met,” Hoover told council. “I'm very comfortable with where the budget stands.”
With no tax increase anticipated under the spending plan, the millage rate would remain the same at 12.25 mills. The borough's water rates are also remaining the same for 2017, according to the current plan.
Borough council member Randy Grace noted that this would be the second year out of the last three without a tax increase.
One significant issue that is not impacting the proposed budget for 2017 is the ongoing financial situation of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority. The four member municipalities—Oxford Borough and East Nottingham, West Nottingham, and Lower Oxford townships—are still in the process of determining what their respective financial obligations will be to make good on the Sewer Authority's debt service payments on a $27 million loan that was taken out to expand the public sewage system.
During the budget discussion, borough council also talked about the scheduling of police officers. Funding for some extra shift coverage is included in the budget, and council president Ron Hershey suggested that it would be best to increase the police coverage during times when the business district is busy, particularly between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight. Police chief John Slauch assured Hershey that there is flexibility to adjust the schedules as needed.
The preliminary budget will now be advertised for public comment. Borough council is expected to adopt the final budget on Monday, Dec. 19, which is council's second meeting in December.
In other business at the Nov. 21 meeting, borough council approved a re-stated development agreement, financial security agreement, and several other related agreements for Sycamore Crossing phases 3 and 5.
The final development plans were approved by the borough in 2004, but the project was halted after that approval was granted because of the sewer moratorium that went into effect for the Oxford area as a result of a lack of capacity in the public sewage system. The project is now moving forward again, with 50 total residential units expected to be added to the development during the next phases.
Stacy Fuller, the solicitor for Oxford Borough, informed council that she was to be taking part in a Nov. 22 meeting regarding the Oxford Area Sewer Authority's financial situation. Fuller explained that she and the two other solicitors who represent the four member municipalities of the Sewer Authority were going to meet with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and several Sewer Authority officials to discuss the debt service payments on the loan.
Fuller said that they are hoping to gain a better understanding of how the USDA might work with the member municipalities as they move toward finding a long-term solution for the Sewer Authority's financial issues.
“Will they work with the member municipalities as they figure out what direction to go?” Fuller asked, before promising to get more information to borough officials after the meeting with the USDA takes place.
During the meeting, borough council also unanimously appointed Mary Lou Baily to serve on the Oxford Borough Planning Commission. Baily will be filling an unexpired term that was previously held by Mayor Geoff Henry. The unexpired term extends through 2017.