Oxford approves budget, mulls 2014 projects
by Eddie Burkhalter
Sep 24, 2013 | 3803 views |  0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
OXFORD – Predicting a $1 million surplus in its budget, the Oxford City Council will turn its attention toward city workers next year.

The council on Tuesday approved a $35.5 million budget for fiscal year 2014. That’s a slight decrease in spending from last year’s budget of approximately $35.7 million. The budget will go into effect Oct. 1.

“We’re extremely blessed as a city…and we need to realize that,” said Council President Steven Waits.

Oxford expects to bring in about $36.5 million next year, with about $25.7 million in revenue from sales taxes. The budget also predicts the city will have about $3.4 million in property tax revenue and about $3 million in business license revenue.

Among the many expenditures discussed at a work session Tuesday were several new facilities, including a new city garage and street department building at a cost of about $2.5 million. City employees will also see a 5 percent pay raise next year.

Also budgeted for are six Police Department patrol vehicles, a $75,000 camera system to monitor traffic at downtown city intersections and a firearm simulator training system for the department.

Discussing a request for more equipment for the city’s sports fields, Mayor Leon Smith commented on the need.

“Oxford has grown a little bit along the way,” Smith said.

Waits expressed a desire to cut costs prior to voting on the budget Tuesday. Council members agreed on several cuts, which added about $600,000 back into the city’s budget. Cuts included reduced spending on new city vehicles and equipment.

The budget also sets aside $325,000 to pay for entertainment groups at the city’s new Performing Arts Center. City finance director Alton Craft said that because the facility is new, it’s too early to know for certain, but he predicts ticket sales for those performances will bring in about $200,000. That figure could be higher once ticket receipts start coming in, Craft explained.

To get the most of out of the $10.4 million investment in the new facility, the council agreed to hire Arts Venues Management to put the city’s new Performing Arts Center on good footing.

Charles Hill, a partner at the venue management and consulting firm, said by phone Tuesday his company will build a website for the center, recommend a ticket-selling company, and pricing and rental policies to the council for approval.

The council agreed to pay the company $4,750 monthly until the work is complete.

In other business, the council:

— Requested an appraisal of the city-owned vacant commercial building known as the Center Star building from Anniston real estate appraiser Kim Kimberly.

— Agreed to pay TV24 up to $14,000 to produce four promotional videos for the city’s website.

— Agreed to join with neighboring municipalities in support of the development of McClellan. The resolution approved by the council Tuesday does not commit a specific amount of money to the McClellan Development Authority, but gives the organization the city’s support. The council can later vote to approve a specific appropriation to the authority, said city attorney Bruce Rice.

Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.

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