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Redistricting plan acquires city approval

August 7, 2012

By NATHAN GREGORY
sdnreporter@yahoo.com

The Starkville Board of Aldermen unanimously approved to adopt Golden Triangle Planning and Development District’s revised redistricting plan at its meeting Tuesday.

The plan evens out the number of residents in each of the city’s seven wards to a less-than-10-percent deviation between the most and least populated, which is a requirement of the United States Department of Justice.

If the DOJ accepts the approved plan, the newly configured districts will become official next year.

Wards 1 and 3 would see the highest number of residents removed and shifted to less populated wards.

Whereas Ward 1 currently has a total population of 5,123, it would have 3,589 under the approved plan. Ward 2 would gain more than 600 residents to have a total of 3,384. Ward 3’s new total population would be 3,296 — a decrease of more than 1,200 residents. Wards 4 and 5 would see gain more than 500 residents each, with having populations of 3,573 and 3,417 respectively. The city’s two minority districts, Wards 6 and 7, would have population totals of 3,280 and 3.349.

Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said the plan is strong enough to gain DOJ preclearance.

“I have looked at the plan presented to us tonight. It is my legal opinion looking at the totality of the facts and circumstances that it should gain easy approval from the United States Department of Justice,” Perkins said. “The plans meet all the federal requirements including the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.”

Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver commended GTPDD for meeting the requirements while keeping together areas of common interest.

“It’s a pretty tough job to negotiate between all interests and meeting all the obligations, so I was highly impressed,” Carver said.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution to issue general obligation notes in the maximum amount of $2.64 million to refinance outstanding State Revolving Fund loans at an interest rate of 2.12 percent for a 15-year re-payment plan. SRF loans have been taken out by the city at times over the past nine years to increase drinking water treatment, storage and distribution capacity. Two of those loans previously had interest rates of 3.5 and 4 percent. Four banks submitted bids, with BancorpSouth having the lowest rate.

The board also heard a report from Ward 3 Alderman and sanitation committee member Eric Parker on the evaluation of the department’s operational and financial efficiencies.

The board will meet at 5 p.m. next Tuesday at the Sportsplex to interview six new candidates to fill a vacancy in the city’s director of sanitation position.

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