Oxford to hire city manager

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

OXFORD -- The city of Oxford hopes to start operating under a city manager form of government by July.

The city expects to start the process of changing its city charter and hiring a city manager to handle many administrative duties of the city.

"The managing of even a small town like Oxford has gotten so complicated," said Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry, adding that this has been discussed by the city council for at least a year. "It's more than just a city clerk can do."

Currently, Oxford employs a full-time city clerk to handle many administrative duties, in addition to some handled by the mayor part time.

If Oxford adds a city manager position, that person would handle such things as hiring and firing of employees, training of staff and maintaining services, among other duties; the city clerk, who would remain full time, then would handle keeping city records, attending city meetings and understanding city laws, Roseberry said.

"You can't do it part time -- you need someone 24-7," Roseberry said, adding that Oxford is a unique city because it owns its electric company in addition to water and other services that serve about 900 customers paying millions of dollars. "It will greatly improve our efficiency."

He said the city's total payroll, which is about $540,000 excluding benefits, likely will end up being less at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year because of several employees planning to retire this year. He said the city manager of a similar-sized city typically pays between $50,000 and $60,000.

The city plans to hold public hearings at 6 p.m. Jan. 18 and 24 at its City Hall to discuss the change to the city charter. It also will hold a work session at 6 p.m. Jan. 10 and a called meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 to vote on the change to the charter and pass a resolution to change to a city manager form of government.

The resolution then will be given to local delegates, who will take to the state legislators for approval, Roseberry said.

After it's approved, the city will advertise for the position. Roseberry said the city council's personnel committee will develop a job description and qualifications, but generally he expects to hire a person with at least a bachelor's degree and some sort of government administrative experience.

The city hopes to have a city manager in place by July 1.

"It's a lot of work, but we've got some time," Roseberry said.