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Posted: January 27, 2009 6:47 p.m.

New Oxford city hall design discussed

City applies for federal stimulus package money

 At the January city council work session, Oxford residents took a second look at plans for a new two-story city hall building and safety complex that would serve as a cornerstone for a potential town-center area.

 About 10 residents showed up for the combined work session and called meeting and asked questions of the council and of architect Ben Carter of Carter Watkins Associates.

 "The citizen reaction was really quite enthusiastic to the new city hall," said Mayor Jerry Roseberry.

 The building, which is estimated to cost $1.2 million and would be located next to the old Rock Store off Ga. Highway 81, would be financed with an $800,000 loan over 10 years, Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds and with cash the city has on hand, explained Roseberry. The city also has an additional $2,300 in monthly revenue coming from an investment with MEAG that would go toward paying the bond. Because of that, and because of the healthy state of the city’s finances, residents would not see any cuts in services or increases in fees, said Roseberry.

 Resident Claude Sitton questioned the decision to make the new city hall a two-story building, which would cost roughly $230,000 more than a one-story facility.

 "My question is one of affordability, especially in today’s economy," Sitton said.

 Planning Commission Chair David Eady explained that the efficiency of having a two-story building instead of a one-story building with a larger footprint would pay for the cost difference over time.

 "We looked at this from a full life-cycle perspective," he said.

 Finance Committee Chair George Holt said he had initially been reluctant about the second floor, but after looking at the city’s finances, he agreed that this was the best time to build such a project.

 "I do not see any particular harm, as long as we continue to do the other things we’ve been doing," Holt said. "This is the best time to do it."

 Planning Commission member Eric Oliver noted the industrial areas that were growing around Oxford.

 "There’s got to be something we do as a small little place, careful investments, very strategic investments, to make sure the fabric of the community remains strong enough to push back on those kinds of influences," he said. "This is hopefully going to be something that…will give us a center, give us a core and identity. Whenever you have a core, something to rally around, you can build on that."

 The city also announced it applied for $2,940,000 in grants for the new city hall and water line replacement. Roseberry said Congressman Jim Marshall had sent out inquiries asking for "shovel ready" projects, or projects that had completed its planning stages and were ready to go, to apply for stimulus funds.

 In other city council business:

 • A called meeting was convened to approve a new contract with Electric Cities of Georgia to take over some services formerly performed by the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

 "MEAG is no longer going to be offering certain things they used to do in the past, such as trimming trees and calibrating meters," said Roseberry.

 MEAG’s original charge was to produce electricity, and over time, it had taken on additional tasks, such as trimming trees and calibrating meters, he said.

 • Oxford Police Chief Clark Miller also requested clarification on ordinances on disorderly houses and door-to-door solicitations, which will be provided in February, said Roseberry.

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