By CARL SMITH
Starkville aldermen voted Tuesday to hold a bond referendum on Sept. 27 for the construction of a new police station.
If the $8.45 million referendum is passed, construction could begin July 2012, and the station could open a year later.
The date of the referendum is contingent on the circuit clerk’s ability to have voter rolls prepared.
The board voted 5-2 to approve the referendum. Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn cast the two opposition votes. Also approved 5-2 was the adoption of a master plan for the two-phase construction of the new police station and City Hall renovations.
Phase one of the plan consists of the purchase of land at the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 182 and Jackson Street (referred to as Highway 389 in a presentation Tuesday) and the construction of the new police station, its parking and stormwater detention.
The bond issue will only be applied to phase one of the master plan. Phase two, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said, could be revisited and adjusted in the future as needed.
An increase of 3.49 mills would be required for phase one developments. Currently, the city’s millage rate is 20 mills. This adjustment would increase the annual tax payment on a $50,000 house by $17.45. The owner of a $150,000 house would pay $52.35 more per year. According to Dumas’ presentation, the amounts were calculated with homestead exemption.
The second phase of the plan consists of the construction of a City Hall annex and renovations to the current structure. While phase two’s approval is not on the board’s horizon just yet, the master plan calls for its tentative completion 30 months after approval.
Dumas’ presentation Tuesday listed the total cost of phase two renovations and construction at $5.955 million. A millage increase of 2.46 would be needed for the plan. This adjustment would increase the annual tax payment on a $50,000 house by $12.30, while a $150,000 house would cost $36.90 extra per year.
Notes provided with Dumas’ presentation say the millage increases are not cumulative increases from the current millage rate. Phase two’s millage rate was also calculated with homestead exemption.
“It’s a good gesture to plan for (the second phase),” he said.
Mayor Parker Wiseman commended board members for their hard work in developing a cohesive master plan for the construction and renovation projects and said the plan is a good product.
“This is a product of each of you seeing a tremendous need for city government,” he said.
Perkins said he voted against the Tuesday motions because he believes there are many city improvement projects that have needed tending to for a longer period of time than the police station.
“The board should give priority to outstanding needs for the longest items instead of things that are more popular and politically feasible,” he said. “I do not think this is a priority at this time. The board should consider the project once we have given full and complete consideration to projects before us.”
The city is currently developing a website that will have a tax implication calculator that will enable citizens to see the exact implications of the phase one bond issue.