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Changes to drug, alcohol testing on city agenda today

January 2, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY

The Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider approving revisions to the city’s drug and alcohol personnel policy at its meeting Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
One key amendment to the drug and alcohol testing policy would make all city employees subject to neutral selection testing.
Neutral selection, as defined in the current and amended policy, “results in an equal probability that any employee from a group of employees subject to the selection mechanism will be selected and ... does not give (the) employer discretion to waive the selection of any employee selected under the mechanism.”
The current ordinance only makes city employees in safety-sensitive positions subject to neutral selection. Safety-sensitive positions, as defined in the policy, include:
- Law enforcement personnel required to carry firearms.
- Non-clerical employees directly involved in the interdiction of drugs and paraphernalia.
- Combat firefighters.
- Emergency medical technicians.
- Employees who are authorized and required to operate city vehicles, city equipment or city machinery.
- Employees who are traveling on the exterior of city vehicles and are exposed to external traffic hazards.
- Employees who have entered a substance abuse rehabilitation program, as a follow-up to that rehabilitation.
At the same meeting, John Bounds will appeal the Starkville Administrative Hearing Office’s decision concerning a manufactured home on 307 West Main St. The city’s report on the case lists Sept. 23 as the approximate date the home was placed on the property, damaging a public sidewalk. Zoning regulations prohibit the home from being placed on the residential property.
Bounds appeared before Administrative Hearing Officer Jenny Turner Dec. 6, arguing the structure is not a manufactured home. Turner found the placement of the home to be a violation of zoning regulations, imposing $300 in fines and giving Bounds 10 days to remove the structure, after which $100 daily fines were imposed. Bounds immediately filed to appeal the decision to the board of aldermen.
The board will also consider options to address an Internal Revenue Service penalty of approximately $18,000 for a late payroll tax payment. The IRS assessed the penalty after a deputy clerk did not make a payroll tax payment in June and the issue was unreported until December.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the next step in the process is to appeal the IRS’s decision to assess the penalty. If the appeal fails, options listed in the city’s report include amending the budget to accommodate the payment, filing for restitution in court and contacting the city’s bonding company to discuss claims.
Wiseman said the city purchases bonds for city employees who handle financial transactions, elected officials and others subject to liability for errors. The bonding company then uses the bonds like insurance to pay for errors which would otherwise cost the city money. He said he is not currently certain whether or not the bonding company would cover this error.
“It would be up to the bonding company as to how the company would pursue the individual that made the error,” Wiseman said. “The bond is intended to give you a safeguard so that your only remedy is not the court system.”

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