Starkville progresses potential parks plans

By: 
Faith Lifer
Staff Writer

The Board of Aldermen progressed Starkville Parks and Recreation plans Tuesday night by voting to move forward with a potential one percent food and beverage and hotel tax levy, which would go toward parks funds. A resolution which will request a $1 million bond appropriation by the Mississippi Legislature was also approved on the consent agenda Tuesday night.

The potential funds from the appropriation would be specifically designated for constructing the proposed Cornerstone Park, while the tax levy would go to general parks construction, improvements and operations, which could include Cornerstone Park construction.

Vice Mayor and Ward 6 Alderman Roy A.’ Perkins was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“(Cornerstone) is a proposed sports complex that will allow for us to bring to Starkville something that we don’t have right now, which is a very high-end sports tournament recreation facility,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said during the meeting.

Spruill said the complex would be an opportunity for economic development in Starkville. The proposed complex will be located in west Starkville, south of Highway 12 and west of the Highway 25 bypass. The property is owned by Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, who has agreed to donate the property to Starkville.

The resolution for the potential tax levy approved Tuesday would increase the current two percent food and beverage levy to three percent and would add a one percent tax levy to Starkville hotel costs.

“If you’re fortunate enough to spend $2,000 a year eating out, buying alcohol, buying food for your family, you’re talking about $20 (a year),” Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said. “If you can spend $5,000, you’re talking about $50. And if you’re fortunate enough to go out and spend $10,000 a year, one percent is actually $100. So you’re not talking about a lot in my opinion.”

In order for the levy to pass, the state legislature will first have to approve the levy. Afterward, Starkville would hold a public referendum where the Starkville electorate would vote on the levy, which would require a 60 percent majority vote to pass.

Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker made a motion to approve the resolution for the potential tax levy, which was seconded by Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller. The aldermen voted 6-0 to approve the resolution with Perkins absent.

“All the money generated from this one percent would be dedicated solely to the parks,” Walker said. “So this vote tonight isn’t a vote to approve and make this project happen. This vote tonight is to give our state legislature the opportunity to bring it back before the citizens of Starkville to make a decision, on our own behalfs, on how we might be able to fund this park that’s actually going to be something that our citizens would be able to use and actually provide economic development opportunities.”

Walker said the initial one percent food and beverage tax would likely generate between $1 million and $1.2 million a year.

“The beauty of this funding mechanism in my mind is that it doesn’t shift all the burden on the citizens of Starkville,” Walker added. “Yes, we have to pay our share when we eat out, but a lot of that is gonna be for the people who are already coming here for Mississippi State (University) football games and whenever they’re coming here for other events and buying something at the store, that is going to help fund this park.”

Spruill said Mississippi legislators will most likely approve the resolution.

“Our legislators are willing to carry this forward in a positive way for us,” Spruill said. “They have said they will carry this forward and be supportive of it.”

IN OTHER NEWS

The Board of Aldermen also voted to approve the rezoning of an approximately 20- acre property which lies on South Montgomery Street, between Lynn Lane and Academy Road, from R-1 and C-2 zoning to R-3A zoning. Walker made the motion for rezoning approval, which was seconded by Carver. The aldermen voted 6-0 to approve the rezoning with Perkins absent.

As previously reported by the Starkville Daily News, the aldermen vote comes after the Starkville Planning & Zoning Commission voted to recommend the rezoning during their meeting Oct. 9. The rezoning is in preparation for a potential 79-lot development by Kimely-Horn Associates and AS Fornea Construction.

A supermajority vote of five out of seven votes was required by the aldermen Tuesday night after a 196-person petition was signed against the rezoning by residents who live near the property.

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