Oxford Borough will receive $551,782 from federal coronavirus relief package03/23/2021 11:53AM ● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council announced at the March 15 meeting that the borough will receive $551,782 from the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The package included funding for state and local governments. The money will be funded through the state, and then the county, to the local municipalities.
State and local governments are able to use these restricted funds to cover costs incurred by the pandemic to:
• Respond to the COVID-19 emergency and address its negative economic impacts, including through aid to households, small businesses, nonprofits, and industries such as tourism and hospitality;
• Provide premium pay to essential employees or grants to their employers. Premium pay could not exceed $13 per hour or $25,000 per worker;
• Provide government services affected by a revenue reduction during the pandemic (relative to revenues collected by the local government in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency); and
• Make investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Funds cannot be used to deposit into pension funds or to offset revenue resulting from a tax cut.
State and local recipients are able to transfer funds to private nonprofit groups, public benefit corporations involved in passenger or cargo transportation, and special-purpose units of state or local governments.
The solicitor will be researching further on how these funds can be used. Council did express some interest in transferring some of funds to private, nonprofit groups.
Sidewalks also were discussed at the meeting.
Catherine Byers, a Hodgson Street resident, told council that she was looking forward to getting information about the upcoming project planned for her street, which would require sidewalks. “I live on the corner,” she said. “I’m concerned there is no grant money. I’d rather not have to pay for my sidewalks. My neighbors feel the same. I’m looking for information and hoping to receive it soon. People on Broad Street got their new sidewalks without paying.”
Later in the meeting, council member Kathryn Cloyd started a discussion on the pros and cons of creating a sidewalk fund. A number of options were discussed. The subject will be discussed further at the April 5 council meeting.
Council member Mary Higgins said, “Coming up with some sort of plan to help with the cost of sidewalks would relieve a lot of stress on property owners.”
Council also heard a proposal from Rogers Group a police accreditation firm. Jenn Ruggieri explained to the council what the group would do for the police department in order to secure the accreditation. Accreditation involves not only updating and rewriting policies, but also a review of the police facility. Receiving accreditation typically would reduce the liability insurance and could also give the department more accessibility to grants.
Ruggieri told council, “Accreditation provides greater transparency for the public to ensure the department is performing the same way for everyone.”
Police chief Sam Iacono said accreditation would keep the department accountable and show that they are current on the mandates and policies. The accreditation process will be discussed further.
Iacono also told council that two of his full-time officers were out on an extended leave. He is hopeful that one will be coming back in 60 days after extensive physical therapy.
It was reported that officer Ken Massey will be leaving the Oxford Police Department. He received an offer for a full-time position at a larger department where he will have an opportunity to advance. Iacono said that he is already getting a new list of candidates to start the process of finding a replacement for Massey.
The chief also reported that one-third of his police officers have received their COVID-19 vaccines.
He said that the department handled 302 calls for service in the month, and had one criminal arrest—a DUI—during that time.
Borough council met with Oxford resident Dan Meixell, who is interested in volunteering his time to serve on the Oxford Area Recreational Authority. Meixell has volunteered for a number of non-profits in the town and is being considered to fill a vacancy on the Authority as a borough representative. His nomination will be placed on the April 5 agenda.
ECON grant writer Pauline Garcia-Allen, who serves as a consultant to the borough, updated council on current grants and future funding.
In other business council, approved a motion to approve Sycamore Crossing phases 6 and 7 extension request till June 22, 2021, as well as a motion to request the Civil Service Commission to initiate promotion testing for the budgeted open positions for lieutenant and sergeant in the police department.
A motion was approved by council to enter into the Vision Partnership Program Grant agreement, and council approved a motion to approve resolution 1310-2021 authorizing the president of council to execute documents regarding the sale and settlement of 401 Market Street.
Council approved HARB recommendations for 221 Locust Street, 521 Broad Street, 115 South 4th Street, and 632 Market Street, and also authorized sending a letter sent by the Borough to residents in the project area on Hodgson Street alerting them of the upcoming work.
Council announced that the borough-wide yard sale will be held on Saturday, June 19. They did emphasize that masks should be worn, social distancing should be practiced and hand sanitizer should be available at all locations.
Council President Peggy Ann Russell also announced that Borough offices will be closed on Good Friday.