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Oxford may hire city manager
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The Oxford City Council voted Monday to consider changing the city’s form of government to one led by a full-time city manager.

The council agreed to have the city draft paperwork for the changes, which will be considered in a work session at 6 p.m. Jan. 10. Public hearings will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 18 and 6 p.m. Jan. 24, with a session at 7 p.m. on Jan. 24 to authorize a resolution asking for the Newton County Legislative Delegation to craft local legislation authorizing the change.

Any change could take effect July 1, Mayor Jerry Roseberry said.

“Managing a city even the size of the city of Oxford has gotten so complicated,” he said. “It just requires continual management.”

The council on Monday also held its organizational meeting and retained its city officers and council assignments. The only change is that council member Sue Dale was voted mayor pro-tem.

Carol A. Poole is again city clerk and treasurer, Clark R. Miller is police chief, David Strickland will again serve as city attorney, Steven A. Hathorn is municipal court judge and Quader Baig is municipal court solicitor.

Council members also retained committee assignments, with George Holt in charge of finance and oversight, Jim Windham reporting on buildings and grounds, Frank J. Davis heading streets, sidewalks and solid waste, Terry Smith helming utilities and public works, Hoyt Oliver on planning, zoning, storm water and cemetery, and Dale chairing personnel, public safety and parks and trees.

 In other business, the council discussed but took no action on a proposed homestead tax exemption for homeowners. The council discussed a $10,000 exemption for owner-occupied homes. Councilman Davis said a half-mil increase in the property tax rate would be needed to offset revenue lost in the exemption. In a home valued at $142,600 with an assessed value of $57,000, a homeowner who qualifies for the exemption would pay $40 less a year in property taxes, while the owner of a rental property would pay $30 more.

Two public hearings must be held before any proposal can be voted on by the council. If approved, the council would then contact the Legislative Delegation to craft a local amendment to the state constitution that would have to be voted on by city residents in the November General Election. If passed in November, a homestead exemption would take effect in 2012.