By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen will hold a work session 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to discuss the city’s capital improvement plan and new approaches to the municipal complex issue.
At the board’s Nov. 15 meeting, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said he planned for the capital improvement segment of the work session to build upon a June 21 work session with Demery Grubbs, a consultant from Government Consultants, Inc. of Jackson. Grubbs then asked the aldermen then to list their individual capital improvement ideas so he could compile a master list of needs and programs to present to the board at another work session.
“He has been working to aggregate those needs and will be coming in for a presentation on that,” Wiseman said at the Nov. 15 meeting. “It is my hope, although I have not received confirmation from him yet, that we will have Demery Grubbs to carry us through the next step of the capital improvement plan at (the work session.) I also hope to have a presentation from Taylor Adams, who is a local citizen well-versed in public-private partnerships, to talk about the potential possibilities for public-private partnerships in meeting municipal facility needs.”
A spokesperson at Government Consultants could not confirm if Grubbs would be at the meeting in person.
Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk said the possibility of Grubbs attending in person was still open, but he would attend the work session by conference call if he could not come in person. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas said he could confirm Taylor Adams will be attending.
Also at the Nov. 15 meeting, Wiseman announced plans to investigate cost-cutting measures for several capital improvement projects, particularly solutions for drainage issues on Carver and Maple Drives, and a pipe between the Colonial Mills and Timbercove subdivisions.
“I am going to, as quickly as possible, work with our staff on looking at all potential cost-saving measures with these projects as well as potential, previously unidentified ways to fund these projects,” Wiseman said. “What is certain right now, with a project list that will now be millions of dollars behind funding that is projected to be there for it, we cannot continue on that course.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins also gave input on the work session at the Nov. 15 meeting. He said he hopes the work session will be informative, but he believes hiring a consultant to advise the city on capital improvement projects is a waste of time.
“We already know what the capital improvements are,” Perkins said. “The question is where we’ll get the money from to fund these capital improvements. I don’t know what the consultant will tell us that we don’t already know.”
The work session is the second the board has held in the weeks between its regular meetings over the past month. At the first work session on Oct. 25, the board discussed redistricting of the city’s wards.
Federal regulations require the city to keep the population of its wards as balanced as possible, so cities look at which wards are under- or over-populated after each census.
Cities then redraw borders to rebalance the population, making every effort to keep current city officials within the wards they represent.
At the Oct. 25 work session, Perkins said the four computer-generated proposal maps shown at the work session created issues with the Voting Rights Act. Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said he cannot get adequate treatment for his ward’s current problems, but the proposed maps would increase responsibilities in his ward anyway.
Wiseman said the maps had been created without regard for politics by Andrew Nagel, the city’s geographic information systems coordinator.
He also said the maps were only meant as starting points for redistricting.
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said Wards 1 and 3 both have populations above 3,413, the number which would balance all seven wards. She said other wards in the city would have to gain residents to achieve balance, with no ward requiring more than 1,000 extra residents.
At its Nov. 15 meeting, the board voted to publish a request for qualifications for an outside consultant to assist with the redistricting process.