Oxford council to vote today on uses for pandemic relief funds spending

Proposals include social services center and new facility for Oxford Senior Citizens.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

OXFORD — Oxford City Council will meet this evening to discuss the possibility of applying for additional American Rescue Plan funds made available by Butler County to fund construction of new facilities within the city.

City Manager Doug Elliott said Council will consider three separate project proposals before they are sent to the county. Elliott said the city has ranked the proposals by priority level.

“With this first resolution we’re requesting $1.5 million to help fund the construction of the One-Stop Social Services center,” Elliott said.

The $1.5 million would go toward creating a permanent home for the Talawanda Oxford Pantry & Social Services and Family Resource Center, an attempt for the city to create a centralized social services center that would be easy to access for residents in need.

“That’s gonna be our No. 1 priority,” Elliott said.

The Journal-News previously reported that nearly half of Oxford’s own allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds were earmarked for long-term affordable housing projects within the city.

The city’s second priority is to construct what officials call a “Multi-Generational Facility” for $3 million, funded through Butler County’s ARPA allocation and constructed and managed by Oxford Seniors.

As stated in the resolution, the city’s “ultimate goal” is to create a new community center that would be home to Oxford Seniors, which would allow Talawanda School District staffers to move into the current city-owned Oxford Senior Citizens center, which would allow the city to demolish the Nelson Morrow building, which currently hosts Talawanda staff, to make way for Oxford’s new Amtrak station.

The city’s third resolution is to apply for $1.5 million of Butler County’s ARPA funds, which Elliott said would fund road and infrastructure maintenance over the course of the next three years. As a result, the city would be able to take an equal amount of money out of its own general fund in order to construct the same one-stop social services center outlined in the city’s first proposal.

“Instead of spending our money [on road maintenance], we’d use this Butler County money if we receive it, and then place that same amount in a social services facility fund,” Elliott said.

This maneuver would bypass the ARPA-specific federal regulations that mandate funds to be completely spent by the end of 2026, which would extend Oxford’s project timeline.

Elliott said there has been growing resident input on how the city opts to use, and chase, ARPA funds made available to it.

“This is a large sum of money all of a sudden coming to the city, and of course we have a lot of good projects out there, so there’s some competition,” Elliott said.

Oxford City Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. today, Feb. 7 at the Oxford Municipal Building.

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