Oxford Borough set to repeal the per-capita tax
● By Steven Hoffman
A repeal of the per-capita tax, the proposed budget for 2020, a discussion about potential water rate increases, and an update about the parking garage project topped the agenda for the Oxford Borough Council meeting on Nov. 18.
The borough’s proposed general fund budget for 2020 is being advertised and is scheduled to be adopted by council on Monday, Dec. 16. On that same night, borough council is expected to vote on the ordinance that establishes the tax levy for 2020.
The projected expenditures for 2020 total $3.8 million right now. For the current year, the expenditures were budgeted to be $3.7 million. For 2019, borough council elected to decrease the millage rate by .25 mills, from 12.25 mills to 12 mills. If the projected budget is adopted as is, the millage rate would continue to be 12 mills.
“The taxes are remaining the same,” Borough Manager Brian Hoover said of the proposed budget.
The proposed spending plan is posted on the borough’s website.
It seems likely that the borough will seek an increase in water rates during 2020. Hoover explained that the borough currently charges approximately $26 per quarter for the first 5,000 gallons of water.
Hoover said that the water rates need to be increased for several reasons. First, maintenance is due on the water towers. During the time that the maintenance work is taking place, which could possibly take a few months, the borough will need to purchase water from the Chester Water Authority. Second, there are looming water infrastructure improvements that will be necessary, and the borough needs to start building up a reserve fund to cover the costs of the expenditures.
Hoover noted that the borough’s current water rates are significantly lower than the water rates of other boroughs in Chester County and the private water companies like Aqua. This is due, in part, because the rates were not increased enough to keep pace with operational costs.
“We never adjusted the water rates. We just let them be,” Hoover explained.
The details about how the rate increases will be implemented are still being discussed. Those discussions should continue during a special meeting that borough council is holding on Monday, Dec. 2.
Borough council also authorized the advertising of an ordinance that will officially repeal the per-capita tax.
Council vice president Peggy Ann Russell noted that the costs of administering, billing and collecting the per-capita tax are so great that it doesn’t make sense to continue to collect the tax.
Steve Krug of Krug Architects, who has been facilitating the multimodal transportation center project, offered an update about the work on the parking garage and new administration building. He said that contractors are working on various aspects of the project simultaneously: At this point, they are hanging light fixtures in the garage area, the electrical work is being done on the new administration building, and the elevator is being installed in the garage. Hoover said that the masonry work will soon begin around the elevator. A state inspection of the elevator must also need to be scheduled before it can start to be used.
Hoover said that they need temperatures to get above 50 degrees for some of the weather-dependent activities, like paving, lining the parking spaces, and other work.
“We’re moving quickly now to get that completed,” Hoover said.
Borough council approved a $398,261 payment to CPS Construction Group, the ninth in a series of payments for work on the parking garage. Borough council also approved a host of change orders related to the project.
The borough will be paid about $96,628 to maintain the portions of the roads in the borough that are owned in the state.
The borough is applying for a $500,000 small water and sewer program grant from the state to address water line breakages and old pipes.
The borough will be holding the Borough Day on Friday, Dec. 6 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. This is an opportunity for residents to ask questions of borough officials, and to talk about any concerns that they might have.