By CARL SMITH
Starkville voters overwhelmingly rejected Tuesday’s municipal complex bond issue, defeating the measure 55 percent to 45 percent.
A 60-percent-plus-one-vote result would have passed $8.45 million bond issue.
This year’s referendum saw 3,031 voters cast their ballots. Opposition votes carried each ward except for Ward 5, which voted in favor of the bond by 33 votes. The referendum’s biggest rejection came in Wards 6 and 7. In Ward 6, voters defeated the measure 216 to 89. The bond fell 208-92 in Ward 7.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the city did everything it could to gain traction in support of the bond referendum’s passage.
“There was not enough support for the issue. I’ll leave it up to the pundits to decide why,” Wiseman said. “The goal from the outset of the process dating back two years ago was to allow the community to build a solution to a pressing need. All of (the city’s meetings) were designed to give everyone a chance to have their say in this project. We failed to gain a level of community support that is necessary for a project like this.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins said the voters in his ward gave a clear mandate against any new taxes.
“The verdict is in and the voters have spoken very loudly,” Perkins said. “They have given a clear mandate which is no more taxes and our tax burden is too onerous and unbearable. The voters made it crystal clear we cannot afford a police station for ($8.45 million).”
While the mayor and many of the aldermen in favor of the bond referendum campaigned door-to-door Monday, Perkins declined to comment if he actively campaigned against the issue. A call placed to Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn went unanswered at press time.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said while the residents have supported county and school bonds, gaining traction for a city-only referendum proved to be too much.
“We’ve tried four times in four different locations, and each idea has failed each time,” Dumas said. “The board and committees agreed to develop a plan as economically feasible as possible, yet this community has given a vote not to support this community development. It’s telling when we, the city, sit in a facility donated 50 years ago, and it’s telling when we have already built multiple fire departments. Almost every house I went to said it needed to be a metal building. Apparently that’s the cheapest way to go. The community and its fundamental services deserve better.”
Dumas said there is no timetable for the board of aldermen to begin work on another municipal facility plan. Wiseman said the board will take it up in a future retreat.