By CARL SMITH
The Starkville Tea Party is holding a question-and-answer session on the municipal complex bond issue and master plan tonight from 7-9 p.m. at the Sportsplex.
Organizer Gary Chesser said although the Tea Party is sponsoring the event, it will be a nonpartisan forum for residents to ask city officials questions about the proposed bond issue and clear up any misconceptions. Chesser said the city of Starkville will be represented by Mayor Parker Wiseman, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and SPD Chief David Lindley, while Roy Ruby, Frank Chiles, Eric Heiselt, Nick Wilson, Bill Webb, Walter Williams and Lynn Spruill will represent the Citizen’s Committee. Mississippi State University Journalist-in-Residence Sid Salter will moderate the discussion, while members of the Republican, Democratic and Libertarian college clubs will screen questions.
“With such an important on the table, we wanted to present this open forum for taxpayers to have all of their questions answered,” Chesser said. “The need for the forum is there given the low turnout at the open houses. We’re trying to get as many citizens as possible to come.”
Chesser said some topics that might be addressed include details on the land purchase for the new police station and the potential bond issue’s impact.
The forum will follow protocol used in previous Tea Party forums — written questions will be screened by unbiased screeners, and time limits will be placed on answers. Security will be provided for the event, and control will be maintained.
So far, Chesser has accepted questions from the public, but he said he expects most questions to be submitted as people arrive for the event.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said he hopes the forum will resolve any unanswered questions the public might still have about the Sept. 27 bond referendum.
“I feel optimistic (about the bond),” he said. “I think there is widespread recognition that it is critical to the future of our public safety to provide an adequate police station. The facility the department operates in right now is far from adequate and lacks many of the basics required for the officers to do their job.”
Both Dumas and Lindley said they believe an open conversation about the municipal complex will only help the public in its decision.
“From the start, this has been a process driven by public openness,” Dumas said. “We hope there’s an open dialogue and discussion for residents to hear the real details of the complex.”