Oxford Arena to remain closed in 2020-21 as town deals with COVID-19 impact

budget

Oxford's town council has voted to keep the Oxford Arena closed for the 2020-21 season as they deal with the uncertainty over the impact of COVID-19.

Council passed a $2.4 million operating budget this week, which is down just over $100,000 from 2019-20.

Chief Administrative Officer Rachel Jones says in a press release, "With an already very lean operating budget, the Town has very little room to accommodate unexpected expenses."

She says an overall tax increase of one cent would provide just $7,315 in revenue which, combined with trimming small individual budget lines, wouldn't provide a significant expense reduction.

In the end, council balanced the budget by reducing service levels and staffing, without increasing tax rates or sewer charges from the previous year.

Two seasonal employees are impacted by the decision to close the arena, and the recreation director position will not be filled for the fiscal year.

The current recreation director, Corey Skinner, is resigning at the end of the month.

The release states that the residential tax rate would have to be increased by 21 cents to fund the arena operating shortfall, meaning an extra $200 to $300 per property.

The residential rate remains at $1.6874 and the commercial rate is $4.1557, both per $100 of assessment.

The town notes that a significant portion of the budget goes to several mandated payments to the province and for required services.

That includes $505,000 for the RCMP contract, though it's noted there are expected savings that haven't been confirmed, $224,000 for the town's provincial education contribution, and $222,000 for debt financing.