By CARL SMITH
As Starkville voters head to the polls to decide the fate of the cityâ€™s municipal complex bond referendum, city officials say they are cautiously optimistic about tonightâ€™s results.
Polls open today at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Voters can cast their ballots at the following precincts:
u Ward 1: The National Guard Armory, located at Industrial Park Road and Highway 12 West.
u Ward 2: Starkville Sportsplex, located at Lynn Lane.
u Ward 3: Starkville Sportsplex, located at Lynn Lane.
u Ward 4: City Hall Courtroom, located at 101 East Lampkin St.
u Ward 5: Fire Station No. 3, located at Garrard Road and Highway 389.
u Ward 6: Mt. Peiler Church Fellowship Hall, located at North Jackson Street.
u Ward 7: Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, located on West Main Street.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the community has engaged the issue throughout the planâ€™s development and has seen the current needs and conditions of the Starkville Police Department for itself.
â€śI think the community realizes itâ€™s time to put this issue behind us. For a single-issue bond referendum, everyone is engaged,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s an excellent project that will serve the future public needs of Starkville for a long time to come.â€ť
The $8.45 million bond issue requires a 60-percent-plus-one vote for passage. In 2006, a bond referendum was held for a different municipal complex but fell short.
If the referendum passes, construction of the 26,400-square-foot police department could begin July 2012. The construction would include a secure parking facility, a public parking area, stormwater detention, a greenspace area and sidewalks.
An increase of 3.49 mills would be required for the bond. Under such an increase, the owner of a $150,000 house would pay an additional $69.90 per year â€” 14 cents per day â€” while the owner of a $300,000 would see an increase of $104.70 per year â€” 28 cents per day.
Starkville officials have worked for over a year developing the current municipal complex plan. A citizenâ€™s committee was formed to incorporate public comments and ideas, and the city publicly unveiled the complexâ€™s master plan in July.
The master plan also included a renovation for City Hall, but only funding for Phase 1 â€” the construction of a new headquarters for SPD â€” is up for vote today.
Citizenâ€™s Committee Chairman Roy Ruby said the time to address SPDâ€™s needs is now with todayâ€™s bond referendum.
He said his committee developed the best possible plans for the future of both the police department and the town itself.
â€śAs someone has said, weâ€™ve kicked this can down the road for 15 years. We need resolve this problem and make a positive decision,â€ť Ruby said.
The committee met from fall through spring, Ruby said, and considered many different alternatives and other proposals to meet the needs of city government.
â€śWe were unanimous in the end with the recommendation of (the intersection of Highway 182 and Jackson Street),â€ť he said. â€śThere are so many good features about that location. The public expressed an opinion for locating it somewhere near the downtown area. Secondly, it has the proper street access for traffic flow. The fringe benefit is the fact it could be a piece in the puzzle in developing Highway 182 into a more desirable location. Itâ€™s a wonderful cause, and I hope the city gets resolution.â€ť
SPD Chief David Lindley said he appreciates the effort supports have given the department and this bond issue throughout its development.
â€śWe appreciate how so many people have given their time and personal effort canvassing neighborhoods and handing out literature,â€ť he said.
No matter the result of the bond issue, Lindley said he and his department are dedicated to serving the people of Starkville.