OXFORD — City employees in Oxford could get raises of up to 2.5 percent under a draft 2019 budget distributed to the Oxford City Council Tuesday.
“It’s a merit raise,” said Council President Chris Spurlin. “They’d get a performance review and would be able to get as much as 2.5 percent.”
The raise was one of the few clear details from a draft $49 million budget distributed to council members before Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the council. Spurlin and city employees declined to release copies of the budget to the public, saying that the document was only a draft and that they wanted to wait for word from Mayor Alton Craft, who wasn’t present at the meeting.
Spurlin said the 2.5 percent raise proposal was similar to a raise the council approved last year.
Oxford, home to the retail outlets along Interstate 20, typically sees stronger tax revenue growth than most local cities. Spurlin said that after the raise, the budget draft still included a $104,000 surplus.
Council members don’t expect to vote on the budget until later this month. At a work session Tuesday, members discussed an apparent addendum to the budget document, requesting $120,000 to put medical equipment on city fire trucks.
Councilman Mike Henderson questioned whether that proposal would replace a $120,000 annual outlay to Oxford EMS. Henderson said the city has been helping the emergency medical service with funds even though it’s supposed to be financially self-sufficient, like the city’s water works.
“My understanding is that they’ve improved their collection and there’s no longer a need,” Henderson said.
The council voted unanimously to allow the mayor to approve a contract with Morris Building Constructors to begin work on the East Metro Area Crime Center, where Oxford Police and officers from other local agencies would monitor traffic and security cameras from around the city and share crime information with other police agencies.
“Most of what this is about is sharing information, sharing intelligence,” Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge said. “All of our law enforcement agencies own their own area right now, and they’re not able to share intelligence because we’re busy doing day-to-day operations.”
The city has already broken ground for the center behind City Hall. Partridge said the center would cost $3.4 million to build and would be complete by March. The chief said at least nine local agencies are planning to participate in the center.
In other business, the council:
— Approved an agreement with VeoRide of West Lafayette, Ind., that would allow the company to provide bike-sharing service in the city. Spurlin said the agreement comes at no cost to the city. Jacksonville approved a similar agreement with VeoRide earlier this week. Local cities entered into bike sharing agreements earlier this year with another company, LimeBike, but the company has yet to expand into Calhoun County.
— Rezoned a parcel at 129 Grogan Road from general business to agricultural. Real estate agent Carra Smith, representing owner Craig McIlwain, said McIlwain already kept a herd of cattle on the 11 acres. Spurlin said the land had been mis-zoned when it was annexed into the city
— Rezoned land at 700 Beck Road from residential to mobile home. Spurlin said this parcel, too, had been mis-zoned when it was annexed.