By NATHAN GREGORY
Incoming Starkville Director of Finance Taylor Adams says he is eager to get started with the task of making the most out of the city’s budget.
He said he hopes to use his experience in financing to help make a positive impact on the community as soon as he starts his duties Aug. 1. He gained unanimous approval for appointment from the Starkville Board of Aldermen at its July 17.
Seven years after getting a bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University in 1999, he returned to work in the university’s department of procurement and contracts. He has most recently been serving as the purchasing manager of that department.
Last year he served as president of the Mississippi Association of Governmental Purchasing and Property Agents. He is one of only seven certified public procurement officers in the state, a fact he hopes will make for a seamless transition to his new job.
“Government purchasing and procurement is the means by which the government procures goods, services and equipment. The key to that is in government, transparency has to be first because you’re spending the people’s money. Openness, fairness, transparency, accountability — those are the key functions for procuring anything in government, where in the private sector it’s profit driven,” Adams said. “In government nothing is more important than transparency, and I think that’s true not just in procurement but … in all aspects of government and the way government serves the public.”
He said one of the skills he had that allowed him his new opportunity is his experience in public service.
“This office (MSU Department of Procurement and Contracts) just like that office (Starkville Director of Finance) is a service provider for the rest of the university here and the city there. To that end, the key to success I believe is in having a clear understanding of what the department heads are trying to accomplish just like here and then finding ways within the limited budget we have to help them go about the business of accomplishing those goals,” Adams said. “I think the biggest (correlation) will be in the ability to be a service provider for the rest of the entity.”
Adams has worked previously with the board of aldermen on establishing an interlocal procurement co-op with the city of Columbus for pooling the volume of general items each entity purchases to obtain better prices.
“That was about using state contracts that are already in place to set a benchmark for what is good pricing (and) to work with local vendors and take advantage of that pricing wherever possible. There are a number of local companies that operate in both communities where Columbus buys a few and Starkville buys a few individually, but the volume of that doesn’t really scale up to offer any discounts to either municipality.
If you compile that volume the hope would be that both communities would experience savings, and more than that it would offer an opportunity to focus the trade on local business,” Adams said. “This is one of the things I’m most looking forward to reengaging in when I get there.
We entered into those contracts — one with Columbus (and) one with Starkville then almost immediately I became a candidate for this position. I felt it would be inappropriate to actively engage in that while I was a candidate for the director of finance position. Back to that transparency thing — whether there was a conflict or not it would have presented the appearance of a conflict.”
Adams replaces recently retired city clerk Markeeta Outlaw, who stepped down from those duties June 1. He referenced what she was able to do during her tenure and said he had big shoes to fill.
“I have a lot of confidence in the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Mrs. (Lynn) Spruill. I think the world of Mrs. Outlaw also,” he said. “Anytime you get a new manager some change happens, but I think the idea initially will just be to listen and learn and as quickly as possible, find out why we’re doing things the way that we are and then we’ll make some assessments.”
Adams said the city’s decision to reclassify the city clerk position as director of finance/city clerk and his desire to make a positive difference in his home community were two reasons he chose to interview for the position.
“I think anyone (who) works in government has to be drawn there from some sense of duty. Part of that is going to a place where you feel like make not just a positive impact, but the most positive impact. I think the skills I’ve put together in my career to this point will allow me to do some positive things for our whole community,” he said. “The biggest draw would have to be that. It’s the ability to hopefully have a positive impact on the place where (My wife and I) live and plan to raise our children.”
“There was clearly a lot of interest in the position, so to have been selected from what must have been a very qualified pool of candidates, I am honored, flattered and extremely appreciative that (the board) selected me,” he added. “That has created for me a sense of urgency as it relates to going in there a and doing a great service for this community.”
Mayor Parker Wiseman said Adams’ experience and background will be a positive asset for the city.
“His knowledge of government finance and procurement is impressive,” Wiseman said. “He brings a skill set with him that will allow us to become an example throughout the state for innovative and sound financial management practices in city government.”