By STEVEN NALLEY
The Sturgis Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to rescind a previous vote against a contract with the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board after one motion to do so failed and several members of the community voiced their opinions.
The vote rescinded was a 3-2 vote on March 6 rejecting the rally board’s contract offer of $8,500 toward such city services as security, sanitation and trash pickup. $8,500 was the city’s final counteroffer when it rejected the rally board’s $7,500 contract proposal for the 2011 rally, leading to the rally’s cancellation.
In the past, the aldermen who voted to reject the contract have expressed concerns that the rally board might fail to pay its end of the contract, causing the city to lose money. Now that this vote is rescinded, aldermen say the contract has not been accepted, but it is back on the table.
The successful rescinding motion was the latter of two, both of which were made by Alderman Mike Collins and the first of which was rejected. The first motion came after Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner asked if one of the aldermen wanted to make such a motion.
“I’d like to open the board up for presenting more discussion on it,” Turner said. “The rally board pretty much gave this board until the end of April to come to the decision whether to accept the contract or not. I think I’ve done everything I can do.”
Alderman Quinnia Yates was absent due to an illness, and when Collins responded to Turner with a first rescinding motion, several aldermen objected to voting on it in Yates’ absence, including Alderman Wayne McCool.
“This should be a five-member agreement,” McCool said.
No one seconded Collins’ first motion. The board then went into an executive session, and the nature of the executive session was unclear.
When the executive session ended, Collins asked the aldermen to consider a rescinding motion once more. This time, he said the decision would give the Sturgis city board an opportunity to explore options for the city of Starkville to help resolve funding issues surrounding the rally.
“I think we need to rescind that vote until we’re able to talk with the city (of Starkville about what it can) offer,” Collins said.
This time, the motion passed 4-0. Alderman Keith Parker, among other aldermen, said the rescinding does not mean the contract has been accepted.
“This is not saying we’re having a rally,” Parker said. “All we’re doing is making that contract open for discussion again.”
More than a dozen citizens appeared at the meeting, and many of them voiced strong opinions on the rally before Collins’ first motion failed and during the executive session. One of them was William Lamb, who said he lives outside the city limits but still takes pride in the rally.
“It’s pitiful,” Lamb said. “Ever since these board members got here, they’ve run our town into the ground. They don’t care about anything but putting money into their pockets.”
Another citizen in favor of the rally, Bonnie Iperigne, said she lives in Ackerman but owns three partial buildings in Sturgis, and the loss of the rally in 2011 has proven costly. She said there is one funding avenue aldermen who oppose the rally are not exploring — money the city has saved up from past rallies, $50,000 of which she said is being earmarked for a new event center in Sturgis.
“Who’s going to rent the center?” Iperigne said. “They’re all avoiding the fact that they have CDs of $50-60 thousand dollars (from past rallies).”