Oxford City Council reports projects are moving forward

Progress is being made on City Council’s goals for 2022, according to an update report at a meeting last month.

Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene provided the update on the goals set at a Council retreat in February with wide-ranging efforts in 13 topic areas. She opened her presentation by saying she wanted to offer the review as a mid-year opportunity to touch base on progress to date.

“I feel like the review is a reminder of things,” she said. “I will go through this quickly to touch base on them.”

She submitted a four-page summary of projects in those topic areas, which she said would be placed on the city’s web site.

A big 2022 priority for City Council was in the area of climate sustainability. She said one of the primary goals in this area was a grant application to the Ohio EPA to fund installation of electric vehicle charging stations in the Uptown parks.

The application has been submitted with an announcement of results expected in December. Another climate-related goal was to continue design of a 5-megawatt solar facility and Greene reported they continue to work with partners to design the array while incorporating a spur to the Oxford Area Trails design.

In the area of communications and public access, she told Council it is a time-consuming process but they have selected a vendor to provide cloud storage of city documents and are in the final stages of selecting a vendor for an improvement of meeting minutes, video and agenda creation and storage.

Tied to that effort is completion of the work on the Oxford Tomorrow Comprehensive Plan update.

“We have developed the chapters and objectives and are working on the action steps,” Greene said. It is expected go public with the first draft soon.

Mayor Bill Snavely asked about saving paper in providing meeting minutes, making them available online rather than printing copies. Green said they are only doing so for Council members and a few other copies but could shrink that down in the interest of saving paper.

Diversity, equity and inclusion efforts were a priority for the police department, which the assistant city manager said is where the hiring of a social services liaison is slotted and that hiring has been moving forward.

Her goals summary outline noted, “A conditional offer has been made from a very competitive field. If accepted, background and pre-employment screening will need to take place.”

That had already begun, she told Council members. The announcement of the new person for that position will be made when that is completed.

In the area of economic development, Greene pointed to expansion of the DORA, the Red Brick Fridays in which High Street was closed to bring people Uptown and plans for Ox-toberfest this fall as efforts to promote local businesses and encourage people to shop at Uptown stores. In another phase of the effort, she said they have been working to support local businesses by use of the Revolving Loan Fund.

Under fiscal responsibility, she noted the city’s finance department has received a certificate for outstanding fiscal reporting and recognition for outstanding reporting.

They have also worked with GovOS to set up software to be used as a one-stop shop for short-term rental registrations as well as tax collection for them.

Housing has long been a concern for City Council and it was included in this year’s goals. Progress is slow because of the work required to accomplish the specific pieces but Greene said there are steps being made.

“The goals are long-term,” she said. “The steps seem smaller but they are big ones. We will plan another update.”

Working toward more code compliance is also a concern and a big one is dealing with litter.

The summary noted, “Gradually shifting expectations toward property owner responsibility rather than city staff constantly reminding tenants. Much work is yet to be done on policy clarification and administrative ticketing side of operation.”

Completing the Western Knolls master plan, starting a cottage community and development of a community land trust are among other areas being investigated for possible future action.

Implementation of new payroll software has taken place which will not only provide better tracking of staff payroll but will also ease the burden on the Human Resources department by providing online applications and on-boarding for new employees.

This is expected to be especially helpful during the busy time of filling all the teen jobs at the pool for summer employment.

Major efforts under the infrastructure heading were interior and exterior coating for the water storage tank and creation of a Request for Quotes for the water softening project.

Public safety goals included taking delivery of a new fire pumper truck, which was done last month, and evaluating police staffing needs, while working toward a more diverse department. Greene noted that two new officers have been hired, conditional on their police academy training which had begun that day.

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