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Posted: December 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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Oxford cracks down on late utility bills

According to Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry at the Oxford City Council meeting Monday night, November delinquencies dropped 18 percent in comparison with November 2007.

Roseberry attributes the improvement to what he referred to as a no-nonsense collections approach employed by staff members at Oxford City Hall. Roseberry commended the City Hall staff for their efforts during the council meeting.

"In this kind of economic climate, we are doing pretty good," Councilmember Jim Windham said.

Oxford City Clerk Carol Poole said Tuesday the municipality is merely trying to crack down on late bills and cut-offs. According to Poole, Oxford has had a problem with repeat delinquent customers and city hall has had to ease up on negotiating with customers.

"We just want people who live here to pay their bills on time," she said.

When a resident must pay late, Oxford charges late fees of $25 on utility bills and if services are terminated due to non-payment the customer must pay a $40 reconnect fee on top of bringing their account current before service can be reestablished.

Poole said the city sends bills to approximately 980 customers for electricity, water, sewerage and sanitation. The services are combined into one basic utility bill. She noted that despite the improvements in November (there were 167 delinquent accounts in November 2008 compared with 202 in November 2007); actual disconnections were higher in October. Oxford had 42 "cut-offs" in October 2008, compared with 26 in October 2007.

In other Oxford News:

• In the executive session of the Oxford City Council, a motion was unanimously approved to adopt a resolution of a ‘declaration of taking.' The resolution involves a 200-square foot street widening project at the intersection of Emory and Moore streets and involves the taking of a property owned by Oxford resident Curtis Jackson, according to Poole.

• The council voted unanimously in favor of adopting the proposed 2009 operating and Capital budgets.

• A work session to be held in the Oxford Community Room has been scheduled for Mon., Dec. 15 at 6 P.M. The Oxford City Council will convene Mon., Jan. 6 at 7:30 PM in the community room adjacent to the police department.

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