By CARL SMITH
A plan to build a new municipal complex and renovate City Hall was unveiled to the public Tuesday during a town hall meeting.
The three-phase plan was introduced by Gary Shafer, the principle architect involved with the project. The first phase of the plan would construct a new police station at the corner of Highway 182 and Jackson Street. The new facility would give the department about 30,000 square feet of operating space and a secure parking area for officers, a feature the current police station lacks.
The L-shaped building’s front entrance would be placed at the corner of the intersection, while 40 public and 75 police parking spaces would be behind the facility.
Once the new municipal complex is completed and Starkville Police Department is moved out of its current location, work would begin on a new annex at the corner of Lampkin and Washington Streets, which would house City Hall offices and join to the court, according to the potential plan. After its completion, the current City Hall would then be renovated and primarily used for municipal court functions. A city-owned area next to Starkville Community Market would also be renovated and used as the complex’s chief parking spaces.
Earlier in the meeting, Wiseman acknowledged the current manifestation of City Hall does not meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Renovations to the building would set the facility to current standards.
“We have the original drawings of this (City Hall) building, and we’d respect the qualities of the building,” Shafer said. “The advantage of this building ... is it’s a big shell. We’d scoop out the insides, throw everything away and start over. This building has great potential.”
Shafer said the project totals almost $14.2 million — $8.3 million for the municipal complex and $5.85 million for the City Hall project — and could be completed within the next three to four years.
After Shafer’s design presentation, financial Consultant Demery Grubbs addressed the public in regard to financing the project.
Grubbs said he recommends securing a general obligation bond to cover the cost of the municipal complex and seeking monies from Certification of Participation financing and the Mississippi Development Bank.
Securing money from these two mechanisms, Grubbs said, would allow more flexibility in the payment amount and time window as compared to a general obligation bond. A general obligation bond for the whole project wouldn’t be applicable either because of the window municipalities are legally required to spend the money.
“With these mechanisms (COP and the Mississippi Development Bank), you can adjust your needs and payments over a longer time. You’re not locked into 20 years (of payment),” Grubbs said. “When you borrow (GO) money, you have to spend it all in three years.”
Grubbs said an $8 million bond issue would require a $640,000 yearly payment, which factors in annual price and interest. He said he estimated a 2.5 millage increase from current rates would be required to pay for the bond.
Grubbs then explained how an increase in millage would impact a home owner in Starkville.
“An increase of 2.5 mills would cost a person with a $75,000 home an extra $18.75 per year in taxes,” he said, “... A person with a $150,000 house would pay $37.50 worth in extra taxes. If the assessed value of the city goes up, the millage would come down. I’m not here to promote a bond issue or tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. The one thing I see ... most people move for, first, education and the next thing I see is for the safety factor.”
After the presentations by Shafer, Grubbs and Roy Ruby, chair of the citizens municipal complex committee, meeting attendees were able to share feedback with city officials.
Comments from the public ranged in variety and questions of logistics were raised from parking availability at City Hall to the order the project would be attempted.
The next step of the municipal project now goes before the Starkville Board of Aldermen. Wiseman said the group would polish the feedback gathered from the town hall meeting and develop a plan from that point on.
“Based on the feedback, this is the most optimistic I’ve felt about this project,” said Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey, who serves on the board municipal complex committee.