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By CARL SMITH
Starkville voters overwhelmingly rejected Tuesdayâ€™s municipal complex bond issue, defeating the measure 55 percent to 45 percent.
A 60-percent-plus-one-vote result would have passed $8.45 million bond issue.
This yearâ€™s referendum saw 3,031 voters cast their ballots. Opposition votes carried each ward except for Ward 5, which voted in favor of the bond by 33 votes. The referendumâ€™s biggest rejection came in Wards 6 and 7. In Ward 6, voters defeated the measure 216 to 89. The bond fell 208-92 in Ward 7.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the city did everything it could to gain traction in support of the bond referendumâ€™s passage.
â€śThere was not enough support for the issue. Iâ€™ll leave it up to the pundits to decide why,â€ť Wiseman said. â€śThe goal from the outset of the process dating back two years ago was to allow the community to build a solution to a pressing need. All of (the cityâ€™s meetings) were designed to give everyone a chance to have their say in this project. We failed to gain a level of community support that is necessary for a project like this.â€ť
Ward 6 Alderman Roy Perkins said the voters in his ward gave a clear mandate against any new taxes.
â€śThe verdict is in and the voters have spoken very loudly,â€ť Perkins said. â€śThey have given a clear mandate which is no more taxes and our tax burden is too onerous and unbearable. The voters made it crystal clear we cannot afford a police station for ($8.45 million).â€ť
While the mayor and many of the aldermen in favor of the bond referendum campaigned door-to-door Monday, Perkins declined to comment if he actively campaigned against the issue. A call placed to Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn went unanswered at press time.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said while the residents have supported county and school bonds, gaining traction for a city-only referendum proved to be too much.
â€śWeâ€™ve tried four times in four different locations, and each idea has failed each time,â€ť Dumas said. â€śThe board and committees agreed to develop a plan as economically feasible as possible, yet this community has given a vote not to support this community development. Itâ€™s telling when we, the city, sit in a facility donated 50 years ago, and itâ€™s telling when we have already built multiple fire departments. Almost every house I went to said it needed to be a metal building. Apparently thatâ€™s the cheapest way to go. The community and its fundamental services deserve better.â€ť
Dumas said there is no timetable for the board of aldermen to begin work on another municipal facility plan. Wiseman said the board will take it up in a future retreat.