Oxford Library seeks additional funding
● By Steven Hoffman
The Oxford Library is seeking a small increase in funding from Oxford Borough for 2019.
At the meeting on Sept. 17, borough council briefly discussed the request of an increase from about $7,500 to $8,500. Council member Peggy Ann Russell read the letter from the library, which stated that this is the first increase in funding that the library has sought since 2012.
Carey Bresler, the library director, was at the meeting. She explained that the library is asking for about 20 cents per capita from each of the municipalities that it serves, including Oxford Borough.
The Oxford Library offers great value to residents in the community. Bresler noted that in 2017, Oxford Borough residents borrowed 22,678 items from the library.
Earlier in the meeting, Mayor Lorraine Bell issued a proclamation recognizing September as Library Card Sign-Up Month. The proclamation noted that libraries provide many different resources to community members, and Bell encouraged everyone to stop by the Oxford Library to check out what is available.
The most lengthy discussion during the meeting was about the proposed parking garage project. Borough council vice president Peggy Ann Russell made a motion, which was seconded by council member Amanda Birdwell, to have the borough retain an outside auditor to review the projected revenues and projected expenditures on the project.
Russell said that she was making the motion based on community input. She said that if the borough is doing such a large project, it would be beneficial to have a professional look at the figures that the borough council members are relying on to make a decision about the parking garage. Russell said that community members, in particular, expressed some concerns about the revenue figures.
“The community is asking for a non-participating person to look at these numbers,” said Russell.
The deadline to award bids to do the construction work on the project is quickly approaching, and borough council is expected to make a major decision about the project next month.
Several council members pointed out that the duties of an auditor did not seem to fit what Russell was asking for.
“An auditor would not be able to answer the questions that you're looking to have answered,” said council president Sue Lombardi.
Lombardi, council member Ron Hershey, and borough manager Brian Hoover all expressed their doubts that the figures needed to be reviewed. The borough has been working with Steve Krug of Krug Architects for more than two years to plan the project. Hoover said that all the estimates that the borough has worked with have turned out to be accurate.
Lombardi said that the borough has paid professionals to do work related to the project, and it doesn't make sense, with the deadline for a decision approaching, to have another professional verify the figures.
Ultimately, borough council decided by a 4-3 vote to allow Russell, as the chairperson of the Finance Committee, to select a professional to look at the figures that are being used. Borough council approved an expenditure of up to $1,500 to retain the professional, and a report will be expected by borough council's meeting on Oct. 8. While the deadline to approve the construction bids falls sometime in the fourth week of October, the most likely scenario is that borough council would try to approve the bids at the meeting on Monday, Oct. 15.
Lombardi said that she thought it would be difficult to hire a professional and have the work completed within a few weeks, but she voted in favor of the motion because she didn't want anyone to think that borough council wasn't doing its due diligence. Lombardi reiterated her support for the parking garage project.
In other business at the meeting, council authorized the signing of a contract for a $25,000 grant from DCED that will be used to install sidewalks on Coach Street near Oxford Memorial Park. The borough initially sought the grant as part of a project to install inclusive playground equipment at the park.
Oxford Borough Council approved a special event application for the Oxford United Methodist Church's Harvest Fair, which will take place on Saturday, Oct. 13.