Staff realignment proposal approved by Oxford commissioners

Feb. 12, 2014 @ 06:59 PM

OXFORD — In their regular meeting on Tuesday evening, the Oxford Board of Commissioners took several actions related to the recent turnover of city staff.

City Manager Randy Hemann proposed a realignment of positions, which he said was made possible by the retirement of City Engineer/Public Works Director Larry Thomas and Distribution and Collection Superintendent Tommy Scholl. Hemann proposed creating two new positions: city engineer, which would require a four-year degree in civil engineering, and a public works and utilities director. He also proposed adding a position of fleet mechanic to provide maintenance of the 94 vehicles owned by the city. The board approved the proposal unanimously.

Harold W. Belton was introduced to the board as the new finance officer for the city. In remarks to the board, Belton said he was born in North Carolina but lived in a number of other places, including 18 years in Maryland.

“I’m returning to my home,” he said.

The board approved Belton’s appointment, bonded him in the amount of $250,000, gave him check-signing authority and limited power of attorney, which was also authorized for accounting clerk Debra Currin.

Human Resources Director Carol Dorsey, who has announced her resignation to take a position in Carrboro, addressed the board.

“The job is 18 minutes from my door, and it pays $18,000 more,” she said. “I have loved working here.”

Mayor Jackie Sergent said the city will be sad to lose her.
“We love working with you,” she said. “We owe you a debt of gratitude for your work.”

Hemann reported more than 90 applications were received for the position of parks and recreation director. Four were interviewed and an offer was made to a candidate. He said he hoped to make an announcement in the next few days.

He thanked Dorsey for her assistance in filling the position.
Oxford resident Robert Williams started a lively discussion with his remarks during the portion of the meeting set aside for public comments.

“We have a grotesque crime situation in Oxford,” he said. “My home has been targeted. My rental property has been targeted. We’ve had a number of break-ins.”

The situation won’t improve unless the community becomes invested in the problem, he said, adding the board needed to stand up and take action.

Oxford Police Chief Alvin Coley gave the number of burglaries for each year from 2007 through 2013. The number ranged from a high of 311 in 2008 to a low of 193 in 2012. Compared to neighboring counties, the crime rate is pretty good he said. Groups such as Community Watch and faith organizations play an important role in reducing crime, he said.

“It’s not just on the commissioners,” Coley said. “When you get all these groups working together, you’ll see a reduction in crime.”

Jim Winston, reporting on the annual audit report, said the city received a clean audit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The audit was conducted by Winston, Williams, Creech, Evans & Co.

Revenues for the year came in $104,000 above the final budget projection, while expenditures were almost $600,000 less than budgeted. The city’s fund balance was 24.98 percent of expenditures.

“You had a good year, and these numbers are going in the right direction,” Winston said.

He pointed out the city’s finance staff received a Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.

In other business, the board declared as surplus a Harben sewer flusher and approved selling it to the Oxford Housing Authority for $22,500. The city has two sewer flushers and needs only one, the proposal stated. The board also gave OHA permission to fill the flusher’s water tank from city hydrants.

The commissioners awarded the 2014 Oxford Park Athletic Complex concession contract to P. Willi Hill, owned by Paul Williford. Commissioner Robert Williford abstained from voting, explaining that Paul Williford is his nephew. The bid was the only one received.

The board scheduled a public hearing to take place during its March meeting to receive comments on a proposal to amend the zoning ordinance to exempt new single-family homes with driveways 50 feet or longer in residential-agricultural zoning districts from a requirement to have paved parking.

Hemann reported the city recycled more than 348 tons of materials during the first 11 months of 2013, an increase of 61 tons over 2012.

“That’s 348 tons that doesn’t go into our landfill,” he said.
He also reported the wastewater treatment facility treated more than 476 million gallons of wastewater during 2013. He complimented Dennis Wilson and the staff for achieving 100 percent compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements.

Commissioners Williford and Frank Strickland reported on planning for the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2016. Williford showed a print of banners that will be displayed throughout 2015. Strickland said the committee has developed articles of incorporation and has reached an agreement with local historian Lewis Bowling to produce a book on the history of Oxford.

The board went into closed session to consult with the city attorney on a property matter. When they returned to open session, the commissioners adjourned.

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.