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Supervisors discuss changing to beat system

June 7, 2011

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors approved the usage of the Oktibbeha County Courthouse for public hearings to gauge interest in a potential county form of government change.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer who brought the request to his fellow board members Monday and said his desire to see county roads improved is the main reason behind the potential change of government from the unit system to a beat system.
Currently, Oktibbeha County operates as a unit system of government. In a unit system, countywide road construction and maintenance plans are developed by the road manager and approved by the board each year. Trainer said if the county went back to a beat system, supervisors would work with district money and develop plans for their own area, which he said would allow them to greater serve voters.
“Our present form of government limits me toward what I can do,” Trainer said. “What’s happening is a lot of people in my district are concerned about the shape of their roads. They think the county has forgotten about them. If I, as a supervisor, had more flexibility, I could do something to directly help my district.”
Reverting back to a beat system, Trainer said, would take out a level of bureaucracy and hold supervisors more accountable.
“We’re elected by the voters in our district, but we’re serving the county. Give the elected representative full range, let him do his job and then evaluate him at the next election,” he said. “The people of my district are calling me and are in need. Each district has different dynamics and needs.”
A return to the beat system would not mean a true return to politics of old, Trainer said. In addition to his request, he said a hybrid model which combines county and Starkville governments could be beneficial to growth. Any such combined government would be subject to approval by state legislators.
“We should not be forced to think inside the box,” Trainer said. “A consolidated city and county government could put us in a whole different ballgame. There are so much politics and red tape in doing what you think should be simple things. The city and county are serving the same people.”
While District 1 Supervisor Carl Clardy told Trainer he knew how he felt when he said he wished he could simply pick up a phone and make changes in his district, he did not say if he would be in support of a complete governmental change.
District 5 Supervisor John Young said he was in total opposition of a return to the beat system because it brings about more governmental inefficiency. Also, he said, the current form of government is functioning well enough and should not be joined with the city of Starkville.
“We’re separate entities — I’m not saying a combined government wouldn’t work, but the Mississippi Constitution has divided them. That’s how we separate governments,” Young said. “I disagree with the idea that things would be easier because I spent 30 years with the city government in Starkville, and I’ve worked together with the county government. We probably have a better working relationship now than we did then.”
Trainer said hearings have yet to be scheduled but should occur in late June or early July. Dates could be announced at the board’s next meeting at 2 p.m. on June 16.
Other business attended to by the OCBS included:
u A request by 21 Apartments Manager Mike Boyle for safety lights, signs and a crosswalk connecting the apartment complex to Mississippi State University was taken into consideration by the board.
u The County will begin developing a plan to meet Federal retroreflectivity requirements for all road signs in the county. Each sign must meet new visibility standards by 2015.
u Trainer acknowledged Christopher Crosby as the county’s Mississippi Association of Supervisors Minority Caucus Scholarship. Crosby was not in attendance, and an informal presentation will be made at a later date.
u The board approved two new parking spaces for Drug Court employees.
u Supervisors passed a resolution stating all utility installations at right-of-way areas are required to be placed at least 36 inches into the ground. Before the resolution, no depth for utility installations had been set by the board.
u The board voted to pay the County credit card bill of approximately $90 and pay claims for May.

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