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Perkins calling for reversal of plans for city buildings

December 17, 2012

Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins will bring a motion before the Starkville Board of Aldermen at its meeting Tuesday to rescind all action pertaining to certificates of participation for new municipal facilities and replace it with a June 4, 2013 bond referendum for a $3.5 million police facility.

The motion also directs City Attorney Chris Latimer to pursue dismissal of all litigation against the city of Starkville pertaining to this municipal complex. In June, the board resolved to validate certificate of participation bonds for $8 million to construct a new municipal facility at the former Starkville Electric Department site. William McGovern filed an objection with the Oktibbeha County Chancery Court not long afterward, and the city went to court in early November.

“This motion is at the request of some constituents and taxpayers (I have spoken with). The citizens are demanding their right to be heard through the voting process,” Perkins said. “The voters have been given an opportunity to vote on this important matter on two separate occasions. The certificates of participation wrongfully deny the people the right to be heard. This is a vehicle that will allow the people to be heard at the voting place during the municipal election on June 4, 2013.”

Also on the agenda is a revision of the city’s personnel policy, particularly pertaining to resignations. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said two employees have recently resigned only to rescind their resignations shortly afterward. In both cases, he said, the city has allowed the employees to rescind resignations, but the amendments will make it clear that resignations are final.

“Unfortunately, we set a precedent with the first resignation rescinding,” Dumas said. “It’s created somewhat of a problem. Hopefully, this will make it clear that precedent no longer stands, that when you resign, we take it seriously. This policy (amendment) will help fill in those gaps on what’s expected with resignations.”

The agenda has two items pertaining to existing and upcoming vacancies on city boards and commissions. The first item, advertising for these vacancies, is on the consent agenda, but the second item is not: The aldermen will discuss directing Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill to update the mayor and aldermen on the municipal boards’ status and issue a recommendation for handling the ones that are inactive or undermanned.

Dumas said several municipal boards and committees are having trouble establishing quorums, not only because of vacancies, but also because of member absences from meetings. He said other boards and committees have functions the city no longer needs, and the aldermen are considering dissolving them.

“There are some that have far more vacancies than they have members and some that have not met in a while,” Dumas said. “This is a housekeeping matter, just to clean some things up.”

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said it is not unusual for municipal board and committee members to lose interest and step down over time because all of their members are volunteers.

“In the case of a few committees,” Wiseman said, “it’s an opportunity to look at the total number of vacancies and for the board to have a discussion on the future of those committees.”

The city has a total of 17 vacancies or near-term upcoming vacancies on municipal boards and commissions shown in the e-packet for Tuesday’s meeting. The Starkville Commission on Disability has seven seats but four vacancies, and the Starkville Solid Waste and Recycling Committee has seven seats but two vacancies and three members with terms near expiration. The Starkville Beautification Committee has four of its 10 seats vacant; it faced five resignations in October 2011.

Other items on the board’s agenda include a presentation on the city’s new website, travel approval for city officials to attend the Mississippi Municipal League conference Jan. 29-31 in Jackson, and revisions to the city’s inspection and permit fee schedule set to take effect Jan. 1.

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