By NATHAN GREGORY
If all members of the Starkville Board of Aldermen vote the same way they did Jan. 2 to increase pay for the mayor and aldermen today during their meeting, they will have more than enough votes to override Mayor Parker Wiseman’s veto.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver was the only vote against increasing the salary of the mayor from $601,000 to $71,500 and aldermen’s annual compensation from $12,000 to $15,000 effective Oct. 1, 2014. Five votes are required for the board to override a veto, which the board will have the option to do when it meets 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
When Wiseman vetoed the decision Jan. 22, he cited salaries of full-time city employees in comparison to peer cities and said they should take precedence over elected official salaries.
“… I take issue with the decision to increase the salaries of the elected officials prior to answering lingering questions regarding the salaries of the hard working men and women we employ,” Wiseman said.
Carver said Monday he agreed with Wiseman in that the salaries of employees should come first. He described the board’s decision to raise compensation for the board and mayor in office in the middle of the next term while cutting funding for OCH Regional Medical Center ambulance service “ironic.”
“I’m not in favor of a pay increase. We have too many other issues and other city employees deserve raises more than we do,” Carver said. “I think $12,000 is plenty of pay.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said he hopes the board overrides Wiseman’s decision, noting that full-time employees have received pay increases every two years throughout much of his tenure as an alderman.
“The increase is for the office and not for any particular individual. Once this increase goes into effect … it will have been nine years and three months since the last increase for the mayor and board. In his message, the mayor says he takes issue with the decision to increase the salary of elected officials prior to addressing lingering questions regarding the salaries of the hard-working men and women we employ,” Perkins said. “I take issue with the mayor’s decision to veto. We are answering lingering questions … The audit and budget committee is studying a survey from the (John C.) Stennis Institute (of Government) and coming up with a plan for employee pay raises. It is my opinion that the mayor’s veto and message lacks merit.”
In other business, the board will hear from Public Services Director Doug Devlin on the status of the CAP loan sewer service improvements for Carver Drive and Woodland Heights. The $1.5 million loan, for which the board voted to accept in October, has $469,533 budgeted for sewers in those two areas. The remainder of the funding will be used to fund construction in the 1998 Starkville annex areas. Devlin said so far the city has completed a flow monitoring study for the sewer projects.
A public hearing will be held on a proposed outside storage regulation ordinance which would prohibit business owners from continuously storing items such as indoor furniture outside.
Golden Triangle Regional Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Joe Max Higgins will present an update on the tri-county economic initiative between Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Clay counties to bolster industry and development in the Golden Triangle area.
The board will consider approving two grants — one which would provide the city $5,032 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace emergency sirens, and another that would give the city $10,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority to fund improvements to the park beside Fire Station No. 1.