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City Council makes three proclamations and honors death of the city’s finance director

City Council

The council discussed several ordinances during its meeting.
The council discussed several ordinances during its meeting.

At Oxford City Council’s April 18 meeting, Mayor William Snavely announced three proclamations and passed an amendment to the city’s towing ordinance. The council also honored Joe Newlin, the city’s finance director.

Mayor makes three proclamations

The biweekly meeting started with three proclamations made by Snavely, the first honoring the victims and survivors of the World War II holocaust.

“We, the people of the City of Oxford, should always remember the terrible events of the holocaust and remain vigilant against hatred, persecution and tyranny, and actively rededicate ourselves to the principles of individual freedom in a just society,” Snavely said.

April 16 will be the designated week for remembrance.

Snavely then recognized the nonprofit Ukrainian Action, which was founded by Jeffrey Hartman, a Miami University alumnus, and his wife Natasha. The organization works to fill pickup trucks with humanitarian supplies and drive them to the Ukrainian border. In just one year, the founders have raised more than $1.8 million and bought over 118 trucks to supply aid. Snavely named April 17 Ukrainian Action Day and presented the Hartmans with the proclamation.

“We are incredibly pleased and honored to begin the relationship with the City of Oxford for the benefit of Ukraine,” Jeffrey Hartman said.

The last proclamation was the council’s formal recognition of Arbor Day. Arbor Day is April 28 and is celebrated by planting trees.

“I urge all citizens to plant trees to gladden the heart and promote the wellbeing of this and future generations,” Snavely said.

Council amends towing ordinance

The council discussed several ordinances during its meeting, one of which will amend the current towing ordinance for the city. The current ordinance allows only businesses physically within Oxford’s city limits to be on the police rotation list to respond to accidents, but due to availability and timeliness, the city sometimes calls on outside towing companies to respond.

One of these businesses is Reffitt Garage and Towing Service. Travis Reffitt spoke to the council in support of the ordinance passing, and to prove his dedication to the city, he bought a plot of land to invest in the community.

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“We have invested in the city limits, and now we own a piece of commercial property in the city limits,” Reffitt said. “Keep in mind, it is a vacant lot, but we are paying city taxes.”

Following Reffitt’s public comment, the councilors debated whether to expand the ordinance to include businesses outside Oxford or to remain dedicated to supporting local companies like CARSTAR of Oxford and Oxford Car Care.

Councilor David Prytherch said he was torn on the debate but didn’t want to prevent future businesses from coming to Oxford.

“I like the idea that we would support local, but there’s a public welfare benefit of having companies that are proximate,” Prytherch said. “The closer they are, in theory, the better the response times are.”

Snavely disagreed and argued that passing this ordinance would send the message to other local businesses that their work does not matter to the council.

“I think that we need to support local businesses, people who pay for local income tax, as well as the minimal property tax,” Snavely said. “And while I appreciate purchasing a plot of land, I think that’s only a first step, and it’s not the last step.”

The ordinance passed after a vote of six to one, with Snavely being the only one to vote against it.

Oxford remembers Joe Newlin

The meeting concluded on a somber note with Doug Elliott, the city manager, honoring Joe Newlin, the finance director for the city. Newlin died from a heart attack on Friday and served as the finance director for 15 years.

“One of his top priorities was always to make sure that the city was in a sound financial position,” Elliott said. “I admired him for that.”

Other councilors joined in with their favorite memories of Newlin, commending him for his dedication to the success of the city.

“About an hour before he passed, I saw him, and I said, ‘How are you doing Joe?’ and he goes, ‘I’m great, everything is fine,’ and that’s the way he was,” Snavely said. “Everything was fine, and he made it a good day.”

City council will meet again on Tuesday, May 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Oxford Courthouse.