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Oxford City Council sets 2019 goals at annual retreat

At its annual retreat at the beginning of the month, Oxford's City Council heard reports from city departments on their 2018 accomplishments and used those reports to create a set of goals for 2019.

Council narrowed its focus to eight main goals and ranked them by priority. Overall, council aims to make Oxford more sustainable, accessible and connected to the university community.

Council also identified affordable housing and diverse housing options as a key focus for the year.

The city will soon see advancements on the sustainability front with the beginning of a food composting pilot program, which will be available to a select number of households beginning in early April. In an interview with The Student, Oxford Mayor Kate Rousmaniere stressed the importance of citizen participation in sustainability efforts.

Council intends to focus on recycling services, especially for apartments and businesses Uptown.

In keeping with its goals, council recently passed legislation on housing diversity. The legislation will require all future property developers to submit a document to the city showing that their proposed housing projects are diverse in size, number of bedrooms and affordability.

Rousmaniere said fulfilling Oxford's need for affordable workforce housing begins with accepting calls from developers who say they are interested in coming to town.

"We're not going out and recruiting, no," Rousmaniere said. "We're just saying 'Yes, please come visit us,' when developers show interest."

Rousmaniere would like the city to be better able to serve the homeless in the Oxford community. She said according to the Oxford Police Department's (OPD) interactions, there are anywhere from 30 to 50 homeless families currently in Oxford.

A proposal to create a Special Improvement District Uptown is in the works. Rousmaniere said this could enable the city to provide more services, like shoveling sidewalks in front of Uptown businesses or providing better lighting and signage for businesses, if those in the district paid into a common pool for Uptown improvements.

Council also hopes to improve public communications this year. A weekly report of city developments -- the same report council members receive each week from city department heads -- will be posted to its website each Friday.

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