by Jordan Bankhead, Recovering Lawyer, Serial Entrepreneur, and Victim of the Velvet Ditch
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jordan Bankhead, a former lawyer and adjunct Ole Miss political science professor until 2018. These days I run a real estate business and other ventures. When I moved to Oxford in 2002, our town was half the size it is now. Those were simpler times. Today our town is larger and more complex but we still have the same need for good local news. That is why I decided to write a monthly column on local politics for The Local Voice. TLV is locally owned and operated by Newt Rayburn and Nature Humphries and when I reached out to Newt about writing an article on local issues he gave me his blessing.
On September 6, I attended the Oxford Board of Alderman meeting. It appeared to be a run of the mill meeting. However, there were important nuggets of information in the meeting that you, as a citizen, may be interested in. First up was the Mayor’s Report which pointed out a record number of kids playing flag football and other OPC youth sports. As a father of a 7 and 10 year old I can confirm the Mayor’s Report is accurate, at least based on the lack of parking at MTrade Park on OPC game nights! Hopefully that will be a topic for discussion at a future meeting.
Next up was the city’s Audit Report by Bryon Wildmon. He reported that the majority of the city’s revenue comes from sales and property taxes. According to Ashley Atkinson, city clerk, property taxes will remain at 30.70 mills for the city tax ($307 per $100,000 home value) and 61.51 mills for the city school tax ($615.10 per $100,000 home value). Wildmon also reported the majority of city expenses went to public safety. Revenue was also up to $33 million in 2022 as income to the city increased 15.7 percent from the previous year. Expenses came in slightly lower at $30 million, up $1.74 million in 2022.
On the Consent Agenda (items voted on together) $5,771 was approved without debate for the mayor, Alderman Jason Bailey, and city engineer Bart Robinson to go to Washington D.C. to meet with the Mississippi congressional delegation. Hopefully they bring back lots of funding for local projects! (more on that next month). It was also reported that inflation has invaded our fair town and for the 2023 budget year garbage collection is set to increase. Garbage rates will increase from $21 to $22 per month for residential garbage collection and 15 percent for commercial rates. Part of the additional cost for garbage was higher fuel costs necessary to transport trash from Oxford to Pontotoc. The mayor explained Oxford’s dump is merely a transfer station and not capable of storing public waste. Why a city the size of Oxford doesn’t have it’s own municipal dump capable of storing public waste also deserves attention in a future meeting.
Another important item on the agenda concerned the considerable development near Molly Barr and North Lamar. It was reported that a third roundabout will soon join the two others recently completed. According to Alderman Rick Addy, the cost of the new roundabout is approximately $3 million and developer Mac Monteith will fund the upfront costs and be reimbursed through future property tax rebates on the completed development. Other items of note included several local projects benefiting from American Recovery Act funds including the Brittany Woods water project. Based on what we’ve recently seen in Jackson, this investment in public water and other infrastructure is appreciated and timely.
An Executive Session (where the public is asked to leave) was approved at the end of the meeting. Although it was unclear why this was necessary to the public in attendance at the time, a call to Alderman Bailey explained it was necessary to deal with personnel issues. Hopefully in the future when Executive Session is called the public will be better informed as to why it is necessary.