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City adopts TVA package, opposes redistricting

March 16, 2011

By PAUL SIMS
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

City electric officials think a wholesale rate change from Tennessee Valley Authority will be “break-even” over a period of one year.
The Starkville Board of Alderman agreed to the change, described in supporting documents as a pass-through from TVA, at their meeting Tuesday night. The rate will go into effect April 1.
“Over a year’s time, we think it’s going to be pretty much break-even,” said Terry Kemp, Starkville Electric Department’s general manager after the meeting.
The city opted to follow a “time-of-use” structure, which provides different prices for varying seasons and times of day. Summer afternoons are the highest in cost, followed by winter early mornings, then spring and fall as lower expense times, according to a TVA fact sheet on the rate change.
Looking at 1,000-kilowatt-hours each month all year, the cost per kilowatt hour will be virtually the same, he said.
The supporting documentation indicates this move will not impact SED’s fiscal margins.
Officials will be developing a time-of-use rate structure on the consumer side, Kemp said.
In a separate matter, the Board of Aldermen approved a resolution opposing the initial House Redistricting Plan. The resolution says city officials believe the redrawing of state House lines to split the city among at least four districts “would effectively dilute the voting strength of the city’s population.” The boundaries would separate current representation from the city by more than 200 miles, according to the resolution.
City officials cite Starkville’s 9.2 percent growth to a population of 23,688, a figure in line with the state’s average district population. The redrawing would leave Starkville with representatives covering five more counties and numerous cities and towns, not a single one larger than Starkville, the resolution reads.
The measure passed on a 5-1 vote, with Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn dissenting. Vaughn said he was not notified and would not be able to support the action. “I guess we (are) saying that the Mississippi House of Representatives don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
The plan city officials opposed died in a Senate committee last week.
But the Mississippi House of Representatives, led by Democrats, rejected a plan supported by Republicans, opting instead to revive the plan halted in the Senate, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.
City officials came out of executive session Tuesday night to announce the board authorized Mayor Parker Wiseman to sign a document which the mayor said will ultimately be used to settle ongoing litigation between the city of Starkville and the Bluefield Community Water Association.
“The agreement would provide the terms for the city of Starkville to acquire” Bluefield and in the end serve the water association’s certificated area, Wiseman said.
If the agreement is approved, the water association will not longer exist but will be absorbed by the city of Starkville water service area, he said, with all of Bluefield’s assets going to the city, the mayor said.
City officials are awaiting Bluefield’s approval and “we anticipate that will happen fairly quickly,” Wiseman said.
City officials debated but eventually approved a measure to seek requests for proposals on a capital improvement plan for the city with an amendment to include areas annexed to the city.
Vaughn objected to the exclusion of such projects as the improvement of the drainage area on Carver Drive.
“We keep going around the issues,” he said. Wiseman said the proposal wasn’t intended as an exclusive list of projects. “We look like we’re leaving the taxpayers out,” Vaughn said. “This does nothing but ask for proposals. It doesn’t commit any money to anything,” Wiseman said.
In other matters, the board:
• Decided to pass a resolution supporting the naming of a portion of U.S. Highway 82 through the Starkville city limits after recently retired Mississippi State University broadcaster Jack Cristil. The 4.3-mile stretch will be named Jack Cristil Highway. Wiseman said state Transportation Commission officials will take appropriate steps on the state level on the change.
• Held a second hearing on amendments to the city’s sidewalk ordinance with a third set for the April 5 meeting. Due to some additional modifications between the first and second hearings, city officials decided a third hearing would be in order. The matter would be eligible for a vote at that time.
• Allowed an initial public hearing on proposed changes on the city’s sign ordinance, which includes provisions to amortize existing non-conforming signs, rights-of-way signage and other changes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report and additional business from Tuesday’s Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting will appear in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper.

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