Oxford Borough Council votes to increase funding for fire, EMS services
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council formally decided to increase the funding for fire, ambulance, and EMS services at its Jan. 16 meeting. The funding levels had been topics of considerable discussion during the last few weeks.
Council member Gary Tozzo, who serves on the borough's Finance Committee, explained that the borough council was authorizing funding of more than $53,000 for Union Fire Company No. 1 of Oxford and more than $22,000 for the ambulance division.
Additionally, the borough will be providing slightly more than $8,000 for the Southern Chester County EMS, which provides advanced life support services for a coverage area that includes 18 municipalities throughout southern Chester County.
Last month, as Oxford officials were finalizing the budget for 2017, borough council decided to fund less to the fire company and the ambulance division than had been requested, and to eliminate funding for Southern Chester County EMS. The cuts were made in an effort to reduce expenditures and balance the budget without a tax increase.
However, almost immediate feedback from fire company and ambulance officials, as well as from concerned residents in the community, convinced borough council to reconsider the funding cuts.
At the Jan. 9 meeting, borough council members made it clear that they would take action at the first voting meeting of the new year to restore funding to the fire company, the ambulance division, and the Southern Chester County EMS. That was good news to Bob Hotchkiss, the CEO of Southern Chester County EMS, who attended the Jan. 9 meeting to explain how important the funding from the municipalities was to the day-to-day operations of the organization. Southern Chester County EMS responds to approximately 3,000 calls each year, and Oxford Borough typically has the highest number of calls among the 18 municipalities.
After receiving additional information from fire company and ambulance division officials, borough council was in support of increasing the funding for 2017. The vote to do so was unanimous.
In other business at the Jan. 16 meeting, council amended the ordinance pertaining to motor vehicles and traffic that makes slight modifications to regulations for angled parking in town, as well as other parking rules.
Council also wanted to remind residents that there is a two-hour limit on parking in a metered space. The two-hour limit is in place because they want to encourage turnover for each parking space rather than allowing one car to occupy a parking space for an unlimited amount of time. Of particular concern are the residents who live above stores in the business district who might park in the limited number of spaces and would prevent customers from parking close to the businesses that they want to visit.
Borough council approved an extension of the existing contract with consultants Stephen Krug and ECON Partners, who are assisting the borough with efforts to secure funding for the parking garage. The contract with Krug is for $12,000 and the contract with ECON Partners is for $18,000. The contract extensions run through June of this year.
Borough council appointed Andrew Atkinson to serve on the Vacancy Board for a one-year term. The Vacancy Board will only convene if the borough council is unable to fill a vacancy on council within 30 days. Atkinson would join the remaining members of council on the Vacancy Board, which would then decide on the appointment.
Borough council's next public meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 6. Committee meetings will also take place that same night.