Oxford selectmen discuss prioritizing road projects Thursday at their meeting at the municipal office building. Vice Chairwoman  Samantha Hewey, left, and Town Manager Adam Garland, right, listen to Selectman Caldwell Jackson. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

OXFORD — Selectmen on Thursday unanimously approved the recommendation of the wastewater treatment plant superintendent not to increase rates for public sewer service.

Zhenya Shevchenko told the board the Oxford Sewer Department’s budget for fiscal year 2021-22 will decrease 5.2%.

The rate schedule was last reviewed in 2018, according to research by Town Manager Adam Garland.

“Even a small, incremental increase would not impact any deficits (to the plant operation) and could cause hardships,” Garland told selectmen. “We will need to study sewer rates and hookups over the next year. We need to increase the number of customers.”

Board Vice Chairwoman Samantha Hewey echoed Garland’s statement, saying that adding more business customers should be a priority.

Shevchenko said he anticipates receiving applications for three new customers. He said he has had eight applications on his desk for some time but they have not led to actual accounts.

Shevchenko also told the board that the department is in the process of installing a hatch access to the pumping station at Welchville dam for workers’ safety. Currently, to access the dam’s check valves workers have to lay on the pipes in a confined space where it would be difficult to rescue them in case of an accident. The new hatch will make it possible to access the valves from above without having the enter the station.

Shevchenko said with help from the Highway Department they are in the process of installing another propane tank at the wastewater treatment plant on Route 121 in Welchville village because the boilers need more fuel to operate effectively. The cost for excavation and the new tank will run about $8,000.

In his report, Garland said Pike Industries will start paving  Oliver and Robinson Hill roads, and repair washouts on Allen Hill Road, projects that were started last year.

Hewey asked that the overall list of major road projects be reviewed by consulting engineers to assess and adjust priorities, if necessary.

Garland confirmed he already reached out to the engineers and will report to the board.

He said requests for design proposals for three town office options have been sent: one to renovate the municipal office building on Pleasant Street; one to add office space at  the Public Safety Building on Route 26; and one to construct an office building next to the Public Safety Building.

He and Selectman Caldwell Jackson have contacted Speedway Inc. again about a revised lease proposal for a town office at Oxford Plaza.

Residents voted down a proposed five-year lease for that space March 4.

In other business, selectmen authorized the code enforcement officer to give 30-day cleanup notices to property owners who have at least 100 tires to dispose of. After the 30 days, the town will take action and charge the owners for the expense of clean-up and removal.

Oxford residents are allowed to bring up to four tires a day to the transfer station at no charge. Any more than that the charge is $2 per tire, transfer station Manager Ed Knightly said.

Selectmen also approved signing quitclaim deeds for seven property owners whose properties had been foreclosed for unpaid taxes but have since paid the town.

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