By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen resolved Tuesday night to hold work sessions on Tuesdays in the weeks between its regular meetings to address the issues of city redistricting, capital improvement project prioritization and a new start on the municipal complex issue.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said he recommended holding at least two work sessions, one each for capital improvements and city redistricting. Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman agreed, but he also said while a standalone work session would be needed for the redistricting, he wanted to see some preliminary discussion of the municipal complex issue at the second work session alongside capital improvement.
“(Redistricting) is a little different from the other two items, and it is something that’s going to take a great deal of time,” Wiseman said. “Of course, we’re back at square one (on the municipal complex) with the bond issue failing on Sept. 27. I had initially thought it might be best to wait until our annual retreat in January, but I have some ideas I’ve thought through, and I know some of you (on the board) have talked to me, and you’ll have some ideas as well. So I think a work session in the near future is a good time for us to at least begin that conversation.”
Wiseman said it was not necessary to set dates that night, but he recommended 5:30 p.m. on the Tuesdays the board does not already have regular scheduled meetings at that same time. He also said the work sessions could continue beyond those two weeks “until they’re wrapped up or until we decide we need to use a different format.”
“We’ll meet a lot of Tuesdays in a row, but we know that’s a good time that generally works for everybody,” Wiseman said.
No one on the board objected, and Wiseman’s plan became official without need for a formal vote.
In the first work session, the board will address redistricting, the redrawing the borders of wards to keep their population balanced and keep current city officials within the wards they represent. Federal regulations require the city to keep the population of its wards as balanced as possible, so cities look at which wards are under- or over-populated after each census and then undergo redistricting.
Lynn Spruill, chief operating officer for Starkville, gave a presentation July 5 on the wards which made it apparent more than a few officials lived near current ward borders, putting them at risk for losing office if the borders cannot be made to include them.
At the capital improvement work session, the board will compile lists prioritizing different projects. On June 21, Wiseman gave all board members a list of capital improvement projects created by Government Consultants, Inc Demery Grubbs and asked them to give a priority level to each project. Projects could be rated A, B or C, with C having the lowest priority and A having the highest.
In other business, the board approved in a 5-2 vote a fee waiver requested by Morgan McDowell with the MSU student association for the placement of homecoming banner signs. Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn and Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk voted against the measure, and Sistrunk said the board needs to consider creating an official policy to identify which fees it will and will not waive.
After some discussion with City Engineer Edward Kemp on the matter, the board voted to hold a public hearing at a later meeting on amending a subdivision ordinance which limits road construction during subdivision construction. Currently, crews can only complete the bottom layer of asphalt at the first phase of construction, and they must wait until the houses are 80-85 percent complete before they can add the top layer. The amendment would allow crews to complete the road all at once, while still allowing them the option to build it in two phases if desired.