Busy Time at Oxford Town Council
Oxford Town Council once again met virtually for its regular monthly meeting on Monday night.
The first order of business was the swearing-in of Oxford’s new Deputy Fire Chief, Kyle Purdy who took up the position as second to Chief Trueman Rushton. Mayor Greg Henley presided over the brief ceremony.
The fire department was the topic of discussion at various points throughout the evening. While the department received three new sets of breathing equipment in December, there are still several items on the “must have” list. Among them, “bunker gear”, the heavy suits and accessories that allow fully-trained firefighters to enter the most dangerous fire scenes with the best protection.
There are also issues with two of the department’s fire trucks. The town’s fire committee will discuss these and other matters, with an eye toward preparing purchase recommendations during the upcoming budget discussions.
Oxford’s fire hydrants were a topic of discussion as well. New hydrants were installed on Duke Street during the water main and paving projects last year, but they were equipped with threaded connections that require adapters in order to connect the department’s fire hoses. They’re also needed for any mutual aid calls, should neighbouring fire crews respond to assist Oxford firefighters within the town. A recommendation to purchase additional adapters will go into budget considerations.
With hydrants on the table, Councillor Brenton Colborne took the opportunity to note that last week’s snow storm left many of those hydrants inaccessible due to problems with snow clearing. The town’s sidewalk clearing tractor suffered two breakdowns, leaving crews the challenging job of diverting larger machinery to tackle a job they weren’t designed to do. Colborne suggested the town consider purchasing a better sidewalk-clearing machine to avoid future winter challenges.
Finances Looking Healthy
Senior Accountant RuthAnn Brookins walked councillors through the latest projected revenue and expense documents, noting that for the most part, everything is on target to meet projections as the fiscal year ends on March 31.
The financials show unexpected boosts from home sales and construction, reflected in deed transfer taxes, which are up approximately 583 percent over last year. Tax Certificates were also up, to the tune of 460 percent.
That revenue boost, plus the unexpected Municipal Equalization Grant doubling ($178 thousand to $356 thousand) from the Province, and other revenues mean Oxford is likely to offset any unexpected costs for the current fiscal year.
Recreation Bright Spots
Councillor Chrystal McNutt was pleased to note two major funding announcements earlier in the month that will benefit residents and especially taxpayers. The Canada Community Revitalization Fund will see fifteen thousand dollars applied to the town’s baseball field, providing new fencing and upgrading the back field area to serve as a second ballfield.
The need for upgrades was apparent last summer, as participation in Oxford Minor Baseball exploded, resulting in provincial pennant wins at two levels.
That funding will also benefit another local activity: the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department, working with the Leicester Volunteer Fire Department, hosted a series of “horse pulls” in the back field area in August. There was some concern with minor baseball’s plans to develop the second field, as both groups had asked the town for guaranteed use of the space.
Councillor McNutt said a meeting of all parties following the funding announcement was productive. McNutt says the new fencing will help the horse pull event meet health and safety requirements by having spectators behind a barrier. The hope is that multiple horse pull events in 2022 will build upon last year’s very successful weekend.
Still with recreation funding, McNutt said the recently announced $92,000 Rink Revitalization Grant will be “huge” for the town. That money will contribute to major upgrades to the Oxford “Lions” Arena, now operated by a local committee under agreement with the town.
Councillor Paul Jones recommended his fellow councillors and the public in general take the time to swing by the arena and see all the changes that have been made to date.
Jones says the new Oxford Arena Committee is doing “a fantastic job”, and folks will be “surprised at how our old arena looks new!”
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