By STEVEN NALLEY
The Sturgis Board of Aldermen has called a special meeting set for Thursday to discuss a contract with the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board.
On March 6, the board voted 3-2 to reject the rally board’s contract offer of $8,500 toward such city services as security, sanitation and trash pickup. However, on April 3, the board voted to rescind its March 6 vote, putting the contract back into consideration.
At the April 3 meeting, Alderman Mike Collins said the additional time 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.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he has sat down with Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner seeking ways to provide police service for the rally. Jurisdictional issues would arise in such an interlocal agreement, he said, and while they are not insurmountable, they do make the arrangement impractical. Deploying officers to Sturgis reduces police available to Starkville, he said, forcing high overtime expenses.
“The cost would have been very substantial,” Wiseman said.
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. Turner said he has approached new avenues for alleviating these concerns in the time since April 3, but he declined to discuss which organizations were involved on the record until the meeting itself.
“They’ve pretty much said, ‘We’ll help you if you can get the contract,’” Turner said. “(These) other sources of income are a possibility.”
Alderman Wayne McCool said he did not know the nature of Turner’s potential arrangement. He said he has his own idea for alternative funding: more of the rally’s attendees need to pay into the system which allows the rally to pay its end of the contract.
“Over two-thirds of the people that come to the rally never go to the park and pay the fee to get into the park,” McCool said. “The rally’s in the hole when that doesn’t occur. When that happens, they can’t give us the 30 percent that’s in their bylaws. The way I’ve got it figured in my head ... there (will) be hardly any vendors.”
McCool was the alderman who made the motion to reject the rally board contract March 6, but he said he wanted citizens to remember he was one of three who voted for that motion, the other two aldermen being Quinnia Yates and Amanda Paige.
“I am just one vote on the board,” McCool said. “I’ll do whatever the town wants me to do, but the few people that (have) come to me and talked to me about it have said if the town is going in the hole, they don’t want me to vote for this to happen.”
More than a dozen citizens appeared at the April 3 meeting, where many of them voiced strong opinions on the rally before the March 6 vote was rescinded. 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.”
Turner and representatives from the rally board have said in the past that the city needs to approve the contract by the end of April for a 2012 rally to happen. Turner said he is willing to call another meeting Monday, April 30 if needed to answer more questions and meet this deadline.