Oxford Borough adopts a $3.3 million budget for 2017
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council formally adopted a $3,358,107 general fund budget for 2017 at its meeting on Dec. 19. No tax increase will be required to balance the spending plan.
Borough council also approved the Tax Levy Ordinance for 2017, which establishes the borough's millage rate that is used to calculate the municipal tax bill.
“The tax rates are the same as they are in 2016,” said council member Gary Tozzo, who serves on the borough's Finance Committee. Tozzo explained that the millage rate will remain at 12.25 mills for the next year.
Overall, projected expenditures are dipping from 2016 to 2017. This is the second time in three years that the borough has passed a budget without a tax increase.
There are no increases in water rates. The water fund budget totaling $1,234,850 was also approved by borough council.
In other business at the Dec. 19 meeting, borough council approved the advertising of revisions to the borough's ordinance pertaining to Motor Vehicles and Traffic. The revisions include extending angled parking on Lancaster Avenue and deleting the language that restricted certain larger vehicles from parking in spots on Market Street, as well as other minor changes.
After recently securing two grants for over $1 million for a proposed parking garage, the borough is continuing its efforts to obtain funding for the project, which is estimated to cost about $5.7 million. Borough manager Brian Hoover explained that they are now seeking a Multimodel Transportation Fund Grant in the amount of $429,658. The amount being sought has increased slightly to include road improvements to both Second Street and Octoraro Alley. Council authorized borough officials to seek the grant.
Hoover and the members of borough council briefly discussed the Volunteer Firefighters Tax Credit that state lawmakers recently approved that allows local governments to offer tax credits to fire company and EMS volunteers. The underlying purpose of the tax credit is to encourage more residents to volunteer to serve their communities by joining the fire department. Fire companies across the state are struggling to get enough volunteers.
Council member John Thompson, who previously volunteered as a firefighter, said that the requirements for training and service time are always increasing for the volunteers, and it makes it much harder for people to make the commitment to volunteer.
While several council members spoke positively about encouraging more people to volunteer with the fire company, there were concerns about the tax credits plan.
Municipalities will have to determine what criteria the volunteers would need to meet in order to qualify for the tax credits, and then establish a process to monitor the program.
Council president Ron Hershey said that offering the tax credits could be a potential administrative issue.
Thompson said that it might be helpful to see how other municipalities make out when they enact their ordinances to offer the tax credits to the volunteers.
Hoover also favored a wait-and-see approach.
“It's a great feel-good ordinance, but what does it do in the end?” Hoover said.