By STEVEN NALLEY
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman announced plans Tuesday to investigate cost-cutting measures for solutions to drainage issues on Maple Drive, Carver Drive and other areas of the city, and assigning City Engineer Edward Kemp to report to the board on the amount of money the city could save handling the projects with its own internal departments instead of hiring outside contractors.
Kemp gave a presentation at the meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen presenting several alternatives for addressing the drainage issues on the two streets. The slides for Kemp’s presentation can be found in the meeting’s e-packet on the city’s website at http://cityofstarkville.org/detail.php?p=3&s=49 .
According to this presentation, expenses for Carver Drive range from $175,000 to $850,000. Expenses for Maple Drive, it says, range from $400,000 to $850,000.
After Kemp had finished discussing alternatives for Carver Drive, Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn asked Kemp about the possibility of saving money by assigning city street department staff to the tasks instead of paying a contractor.
Kemp said this would save money, but it would take longer and would pull from the same pool of staffers who normally repair potholes and resolve other street issues around the city. He also said while using city staff would save on labor, materials make up a “significant portion” of the projects’ costs.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins then said he had been told earlier in the year it would cost $250,000 at most to finish the Carver Drive project. He said he has advocated the use of the city’s work force for the two projects all along.
“That’s how we got the J.L. King, formerly Westside Drive, ditch done,” Perkins said. “We have people on our workforce that can run the excavators, that can run the machinery. I feel like every time I get a presentation the price goes up and up. When you get these contractors, they look at the city as (having) deep pockets.”
Perkins said he considered it shameful that the majority of the board supported an $8 million bond issue for a new police station, but the issue of covering and piping the Carver Drive and Maple Drive ditches has lingered for years.
“People have gotten so tired, they have lost their faith in this government,” Perkins said. “They have lost their faith in this board. They do not want to continue to come up here because they feel they are being neglected and left out.”
Finally, Perkins said he wanted to see more leadership from Mayor Wiseman on the issue.
“You got a significant vote, I hate to remind you, but the votes from Ward 6, they were the votes ... that put you into office,” Perkins said. “Ward 6 was the key vote — the swing vote — and we need your leadership, we need your support (and) we need this project moving.”
When Perkins asked Wiseman for his input again after Kemp finished his presentation on both streets, Wiseman said he acknowledged the projects have become high expenditures. He also said Kemp had told him about a third drainage issue the board has committed to studying, which would likely cost as much to address as the issues on Carver Drive and Maple Drive.
“That is an existing pipe in-between the Colonial Mills subdivision and Timbercove that the city engineer has informed us is failing,” Wiseman said. “In addition ... we have approximately $1 million in other drainage projects that are identified, and right now the projection for funding in that 10-year drainage project plan is already short before you add additional costs.
“I am going to, as quickly as possible, work with our staff on looking at all potential cost-saving measures with these projects as well as potential, previously unidentified ways to fund these projects,” Wiseman added. “What is certain right now with a project list that will now be millions of dollars behind funding that is projected to be there for it, we cannot continue on that course.”