Oxford will have to wait at least another year to move forward on a state mandate to replace old water lines after being passed over for a state grant, the City Council announced at its Monday night meeting.
"We would have loved to have gotten it. We're going to reapply next year," said Mayor Jerry Roseberry. "There's only so much money to go around, as the state is reminding us."
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs received 142 applications requesting $68 million dollars, but only had $32 million dollars of grants to give away. Oxford had applied for $500,000.
The state mandated communities have a plan in place to replace older pipes made with a certain type of a combined asbestos and concrete material.
Roseberry said the city had wanted to replace the pipes even before the mandate.
"Not only there, but the main line down Emory Street," he said.
One of the reasons the DCA gave for declining the application was that Oxford's situation was not urgent, Roseberry said.
Although the city lost out on the DCA grant, it gained a grant writer at the Monday meeting.
Susan Dale was unanimously approved as the city's new grant writer and researcher. Dale, a human resources administrator for Oxford College, described some of her previous experience with grant writing as a healthcare administrator and on the mayor's task force for traffic safety in Albany.
The council agreed to an annual contract with a rate of $40 an hour, with an initial $400 deposit that would go toward the final charge per grant proposal. If the grant was not won, $1,000 would be credited to the city for the next grant initiative.
"My role would be to identify the funds, write the grants, and secure the funding that the council approves," Dale said.
Councilmember George Holt questioned whether the city would have control over when and how much work Dale would do as a grant writer.
"I will need to work with someone on developing a plan on identifying the priorities, goals of what council wants to accomplish," Dale said. "If I don't have that direction, it will be spinning wheels."
In other business:
The City Council unanimously approved the Multi-jurisdictional Solid Waste Management Plan, which would consolidate and expand the Lower River Municipal Solid Waste landfill by filling in the area between current pits, said Councilmember Hoyt Oliver. The expanded pit would include solid waste and construction waste and be lined, which reduces the environmental impact.
The council approved a request to develop the Cousins Center football field with a concession stand, restrooms and parking area for Newton County Recreation Department programs. A resident raised the question of liability and policing responsibility and the council determined that the city was responsible for policing but not liable for events and people, since the Cousins Center is private property.
Also approved was an application for a child day-care at 107 Longstreet Circle with less than six children.
The council rescheduled consideration of an application to open a non-profit coffee house that would be run by the Victory Tabernacle Church. Questions were raised about the tax status of the coffee house, which would be a commercial entity. The issue will be discussed at the Sept. 22 work session.