Oxford Borough finalizes budget—with a tax decrease
By Steven Hoffman
On Monday night, Oxford Borough Council finalized the budget for 2019, and there's some very good news for taxpayers: the millage rate will be decreasing by .25 mills for next year.
Oxford Borough Council approved the $3.7 million general fund budget by a vote of 5-1.
They also adopted the ordinance that sets the millage rate at 12 mills for 2019. The millage rate for the current year is 12.25 mills.
Borough officials were clearly elated that the tax rate was actually declining. It's rare for a municipality to be able to reduce taxes from one year to the next.
Oxford Borough is the position of being able to reduce taxes because the borough's revenues are outpacing expenditures.
When the proposed 2019 budget was unveiled in November, borough manager Brian Hoover explained that Oxford has seen a significant increase in construction activity, as well as a large increase in the total assessed value of all properties in the borough. Hoover estimated that the total assessed value of all properties has increased by about $5.2 million during the last year. That equates to about $63,000 in additional revenues to the borough's coffers without an increase in taxes.
Hoover also said that Oxford saw a lot of construction in town in the last year. Some new homes have been built, and a large number of existing homes are selling in the borough. Many of the new homeowners are undertaking improvement projects. Improvements are also being made to commercial buildings in town, increasing the values of those buildings. Ware Presbyterian Village has also been growing significantly in the last few years, which has helped the borough's revenues, too.
Hoover said that the borough saw about $225,000 in building permits for 2018, which helped the borough build a surplus in its budget. Overall, Hoover said, the borough has a surplus of about $500,000 built up. As a result of the surplus, it was appropriate to reduce taxes for the taxpayers in the borough, Hoover said.
He lauded the efforts of borough council for working with the staff on the preparation of the budget.
“Council worked diligently on this budget since September,” Hoover pointed out.
Council vice president Peggy Ann Russell did not vote in favor of the budget or the ordinance that establishes the millage rate. She said that she wanted to support the tax decrease, but with the construction of the parking garage and the uncertainty surrounding the sale of the Oxford Area Sewer Authority, she preferred waiting until those large issues were resolved before reducing taxes.