By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors will review an estimated $30,000 to $35,000 comprehensive planning contract from an Oxford-based urban development firm at its 9 a.m. Monday meeting at the county courthouse.
According to a copy of the contract obtained by Starkville Daily News, the proposal developed by Slaughter and Associates “will be a document that guides future growth and development” and outline key aspects of said growth: existing demographics; community facilities; existing and future use plans; transportation; and the county’s implementation of goals and objectives for development. Additional services include at least one public hearing required by law and a final presentation of the plan before possible adoption.
The contract does not identify a specific target completion date, saying the firm will agree “to perform … services in a diligent and competent manner.”
Board President Orlando Trainer said supervisors could take action on the proposal Monday after a presentation from firm founder Mike Slaughter.
“If we don’t, then the county still has an open-ended project,” Trainer said.
If approved, the contract states the county will compensate Slaughter and Associates for its services plus any out-of-pocket expenses including travel, per diem expenses for personnel, purchased information and services, copies, graphic materials and other necessary expenses. Also, the consultant “may require the assistance of the county engineer regarding water, sewer, street and drainage facilities … whose fee, if any, is not covered in this agreement.”
Slaughter and Associates will submit “monthly or periodic” invoices to the board requesting payment. Those requests will be “based upon the amount and value of work and services performed” and will include itemized statements. Oktibbeha County, according to the contract, must make its payments within 30 days after receiving the firm’s invoices or face a suspension of work.
The contract includes pay rates for Slaughter and Associates’ employees. The group’s principal planner will earn $185 per hour, while its associate planners I and II will earn $125 and $100 per hour respectively. Assistant planners I and II will earn $85 and $60 per hour respectively, according to the contract, while a planning/geographic information system (GIS) technician will earn $50 per hour and an office technician will earn $35 per hour.
Trainer said the contract is worth approximately half of funding the county previously set aside for comprehensive planning.
The county can terminate or renegotiate the agreement at any time as long as it provides written notification to the firm, the contract states.
During the board’s Nov. 19 meeting, Golden Triangle Planning and Development District Executive Director Rudy Johnson told supervisors he would support any action that tasks Slaughter and Associates with executing comprehensive planning.
In 2009, the county contracted the GTPDD to develop a new 911 addressing system and use the information collected toward developing a comprehensive plan. GIS workers concluded a countywide survey which inventoried every Oktibbeha County road, structure and landmark in preparation for the system and implemented the plan last year.
As for a comprehensive plan, the GTPDD would have utilized planners from Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, but Johnson said he believes the Oxford-based firm could handle the task quickly and in an unbiased fashion.
“If you want to go with Mike, you’ve got my blessing. We’ve made it clear in our meeting that we would work together in this plan,” Johnson said in November. “Y’all have paid for a lot of work so far. Just don’t make sure you don’t pay for that again. We can help (Slaughter) with anything he needs.”