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Partnership could be key for building new city facilities

December 5, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

The Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider taking the first step in seeking a public-private partnership to develop municipal facilities at its meeting 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
A request for partnership proposals, the public-private counterpart to a request for qualifications, is on the board’s agenda for discussion and possible approval. The RFPP consideration follows from a presentation the board heard at a work session Nov. 22 on the benefits, disadvantages and challenges of public-private partnerships. Taylor Adams, president of the Mississippi Association of Governmental Purchasing and Property Agents, gave the presentation, and because Starkville’s purchasing staff are part of MAGPPA, Adams was able to offer Starkville free consulting services.
The consultation and RFPP are responses to a failed bond issue which would have raised property taxes for an $8.45 million police facility, the first of two phases in a municipal facilities plan which would have included a later bond issue for new municipal facilities. On Sept. 27, Starkville voters rejected the bond issue 55 percent to 45 percent, keeping it from the 60-percent-plus-one-vote majority needed for passage and forcing the city to restart its plans to address the issue.
Aldermen will also hear a presentation from Public Services Director Doug Devlin on plans to mitigate the city’s brown water issues. The presentation slides in the agenda’s e-packet state there are too many independent variables in play to identify the exact cause of the issues, but there are two likely causes.
First, it says, rust deposits from old cast-iron pipes could have been released into the water supply when the city raised chlorine levels for short durations in 2010 to comply with EPA regulations. Second, it says, the rust deposits could have been released by flow conditions which have not removed them in the past.
The plan outlined in the presentation calls for scheduled unidirectional flushing of pipes, starting in the northeastern quadrant of the city. First, it says, the city would conduct surveillance to locate all valves, many of which have been paved over, making it a potentially time-consuming process. It also says the flushing program will cause temporary incidences of brown water, calling for advance notice to the public.
Also on the agenda are two public hearings. One is the first public hearing on an amendment which would provide additional locations and different hours for street peddlers. It would let peddlers sell from any parking space on a public right-of-way so long as they do not impede use of adjacent spaces, and it would strike language restricting peddling on Sunday.
The other public hearing is the third on an amendment to subdivision regulations which would allow subdivision developers to choose to build streets in a single phase instead of being restricted to two-phase construction.
Currently, crews can only complete the bottom layer of asphalt at the first phase of construction, and they must wait until the houses are 80-85 percent complete before they can add the top layer. The amendment would allow crews to complete the road all at once, while still allowing them the option to build it in two phases if desired.
The board will hear an appeal from Louise Page for a rezoning request the planning and zoning commission voted to deny at its meeting Nov. 8. Page requested a zoning change from R-1 (single-family residential) to R-6 (mobile homes) for her 13 acres of property at 1641 Rockhill Road to allow her grandson to place a mobile home on her property as his primary residence.
Finally, the board will consider numerous personnel issues, including advertisement for five vacant positions at the Starkville Police Department. The resignations of five officers, two master officers and a sergeant and the creation of two new motorcycle unit positions recently left the SPD with 10 positions to fill. The SPD has hired staff in five of these positions, and the new employees will be introduced at the start of the meeting.

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