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County leaders pass budget, new animal law in ’11

January 1, 2012

In 2011, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors dealt with a wide range of issues from the installation of a countywide vicious animal ordinance to the adoption of a trimmed operating budget.
In September, supervisors began drafting a countywide vicious animal ordinance after two children were injured in a pit bull attack on Aug. 13. Public hearings were held that month and in November, and the ordinance was passed in November.
The ordinance defines vicious animals by outlining behavior and intent, sets vaccination requirements for dogs, places responsibility upon animal owners and delegates enforcement to the Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office.
Board President Marvell Howard said he believes the ordinance will benefit county residents because it squarely places the burden of responsibility upon dog owners’ shoulders.
“I think it’s got enough teeth to make sure anyone in violation will be dealt with,” he said in October. “It offers some sort of real repercussions. Once violators start getting prosecuted, that will start to curb the problems our county is facing.”
Also in September, the board adopted an operating budget for the next fiscal year without raising county millage rates. Tax revenues increased .31 percent because of below-average new growth.
“I’d be willing to bet my next paycheck it’s the lowest level of growth I’ve seen in my years here,” County Administrator Don Posey said in September.
The budget appropriated $10,629,268 for the general county fund. The board of supervisors, buildings and grounds, and Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Office were allotted the largest amounts of money in the budget — $6.6 million. Supervisors voted 3-2 to double Oktibbeha-Starkville Emergency Response Volunteer Services’ budget to $6,000 after discussion in executive session.
In September, Howard said the budget was prepared using cuts applied to the previous year’s fiscal budget.
“I think we have a budget in place that will allow us to continue to offer quality services to our citizens,” he said. “I’m real proud of us because we were able to cut the budget and still be able to offer the same level of services.”
Residents of outlying Oktibbeha County areas received change-of-address notices in August when the county instituted its new re-addressing system. The re-addressing plan is one of the steps needed to develop a comprehensive plan for the county.
The new addressing map, which solves flaws and issues with the county’s previous grid system, was prepared by the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District’s GIS division. GTPDD employees took inventory of every structure in Oktibbeha County while developing a comprehensive digital map, which includes the location of each county structure in a digital format with its true coordinates, details of the building, a digital picture and the structure’s assigned voting and political boundary. Supervisors can use the digital map in any future land-use discussions.
Residents who received change-of-address notifications can collect mail from their old address until 12 months after they received the notice. The time window allows residents to make the needed changes to keep their location updated.
Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan said the new addressing system will guide first responders more accurately to emergencies.
“It’s decidedly good thing because not only do we have better signage in there, but the very number we’re given tells us where a place is. That’s sometimes not true now because the numerics do not all line up,” Rosenhan said in August. “If this was used by 911, it would have not only better direction, but they would literally have a picture of the house. If there’s enough smoke, I’ll find a fire, but you don’t get that same alert for EMS or law enforcement situations.”
Recently, OCFS installed Garmin GPS units loaded with the county’s new addressing system in each of East Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department’s front-line fire trucks. Rosenhan said he would like to see each of the county’s volunteer fire departments using the GPS units in the future.
Supervisors also kept a close eye on the construction of the new county education building over the summer.
In June, a list of room- and project-specific deficiencies was drafted by Architect Roger Pryor, of Pryor and Morrow Architects and Engineers, and presented the board. The list contained 306 cosmetic and interior-specific problems with individual rooms — including, but not limited to paint touch-ups, ceramic tiles and sheetrock work — 21 general issues and 60 other notations.
Howard, who has a background in construction and contracting work, led a walkthrough with county education building architects and contractors to check for cosmetic issues and other problems after concerns were delivered to the board.
The project’s contractor, Anco Construction Inc., quickly fixed many of the June list’s issues, and by mid-July, a new deficiency list only reported 20 instances of problems.
A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building was held in December.
After the election season, two board members will not return for an additional term. District 1 Supervisor Carl Clardy and District 5 Supervisor John Young were unseated by their challengers, John Montgomery and Joe Williams. Montgomery, Williams and returning supervisors took their respective oaths of office Thursday and will actively begin their leadership roles soon.
“It will be interesting to see how everyone gels and performs together,” District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer said. “We have to make sure our constituents understand what we’re doing and reinforce what we said we will do.”

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