By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen took critical steps toward addressing sewer and storm water issues on Carver Drive and in other locations at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall
After approving $1,030,467 to fund construction of sewer infrastructure to serve commercially zoned areas adjacent to Miss. Highway 25 in southwest Starkville, the board approved a $1.5 million Capital Improvements Revolving Loan Program, with plans to use the more than $450,000 left over to finance sewer improvements for Carver Drive and other areas. Both measures passed 3-2, with Aldermen Richard Corey and Sandra Sistrunk absent and Aldermen Henry Vaughn and Ben Carver voting against it. Carver, Ward 1 alderman, said the extra funds for Carver Drive surprised him, leading him to vote against them.
“This is the first time I’ve seen this (money) for Carver Drive,” Carver said. “If I’m voting for (this item) I’m voting on (money) I didn’t know about two hours ago. I feel uncomfortable with it.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins repeatedly asked Starkville Public Services Director Doug Devlin if he correctly understood that the leftover funds from the grant would go to Carver Drive first before going to any other sewer-related items. He said if for any reason the leftover funds are not enough, the board will need to find a way to fund the rest of the project, but beyond that, he is happy with the measure.
“If we don’t have enough money, we’ll come back to the table,” Perkins said. “I think this is a good starting point. We’ve heard all the news about this sewer problem on Carver Drive.”
The commission also heard a presentation from Lynn Spruill on the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget. Spruill said the budget was constructed with approximately $16.84 million in revenue in mind, with plans to leave an ending fund balance of $628,685. She said the budget does not call for any tax increases or pay increases for employees, barring incremental pay increases mandated by the state that come every three or six years.
Spruill said one of the key points she wanted to make with her presentations was the amount of service the city has been able to provide with relatively low millage. Starkville’s millage is lower than that of Oxford, Tupelo, West Point and other Mississippi cities she said are frequently compared to Starkville. She also said while Starkville’s population has grown from 7,107 in 1954 to 23,888 in 2010, its millage has hovered near 18 and 20, even as Starkville School District’s millage levy has increased.
“I find that to be a rather interesting stat,” Spruill said. “The value of the millage has certainly changed; we’ve been living on that growth. You truly are getting an awful lot of service for your dollar.”