Mayor Parker Wiseman officially started his re-election campaign Monday in an announcement at Starkville Community Market.
His confirmation that he intends to run for a second term as a Democrat comes 12 days after Starkville businessman Dan Moreland announced he had qualified as a Republican to run for mayor. Wiseman and Moreland are the only two who have officially announced they will seek the office.
Wiseman said under his watch, the city’s financial status has rebounded significantly from where it was when he began his term in 2009.
“We’ve used strategic planning, disciplined budgeting and performance measurement to get our fiscal house in order. When I took office, our rainy day fund was so low that the city received a negative outlook on its credit rating. Not to mention we were in the midst of the worst national recession since the Great Depression, which meant the picture for city revenue projections wasn’t rosy,” he said. “We went to work cutting the budget and creating a strategic plan for the future so we wouldn’t lose sight of progress in spite of our difficult financial position … Now I’m proud to be able to say that today our rainy day fund has more than doubled and our credit rating has been fully restored.
Through it all, we’ve been able to maintain one of the lowest city tax rates in the state.”
He noted that the two services that account for the highest expenditure of taxes are fire and police protection, and both entities have worked tirelessly to become better service providers for residents.
“This fall, our fire department improved its fire rating for the first time in more than 20 years and our police department attained national certification … Starkville is now one of only two cities in Mississippi with a Class 4 fire rating and nationally certified police department. It can faithfully be said that Starkville takes a back seat to no one when it comes to public safety.”
Infrastructure upgrades have been a priority during his administration, he said.
“As a result, we’ve paved over 70 lane miles of roads, and our streets are in better condition than ever before. We’ve added over 2.5 miles of sidewalks and 11.5 miles of bike lanes, making Starkville a more walkable and more bikeable city than ever before,” he said. “We’re on track to build a new city hall and turn the current city hall into a police headquarters without raising your taxes to do it.”
Wiseman also mentioned the establishment of the Starkville/MSU Area Rapid Transit program, the city’s participation with Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties’ municipalities to establish the Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority and the city’s growing tax base as positive signs.
“Over the last four years, over 100 new small businesses have begun operating in Starkville, our industrial base has grown by over 210,000 square feet and countywide tourism spending has increased by more than 25 percent,” he said. “As a result, city sales tax revenue is up 9.9 percent and our unemployment rate is trending downward.”
The city has modified land use policies to promote economic growth over the past four years, he said.
“We’ve amended the sidewalk ordinance to establish a sidewalk development area which maintains our goal of walkability but recognizes sidewalks should not be required in all developments. We’ve reformed our storm water ordinance in order to make it less burdensome on the development process while still preventing future drainage problems,” he said. “We’ve streamlined the condominium development process to save time and money for condominium developers. We’ve provided more flexible options for street installation. Finally, we’ve established a form-based code for downtown Starkville which will preserve the character of downtown, allow denser development and cut the red tape out of the development process.”
Wiseman said he’s pleased with city progress during his first term and will work to continue that trend if offered a second.
“The past four years have been good, and it’s important from time to time to remember how far we’ve come to remind ourselves that progress is worth the grind it takes to get there,” he said, “but we didn’t come here today to throw ourselves a party and pronounce the job done. We came here because we seek a future that is better than our past. If the next four years are not even better than the last four, then we’re not doing our job.”