By NATHAN GREGORY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider approving this fiscal year’s capital improvement projects in its 5:30 p.m. meeting today at City Hall.
Information in the city’s 2012 capital improvement budget indicates the city has an estimated $799,000 in available funds — $449,000 in its capital improvement budget and an additional $350,000 in funds carrying over from last year.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman that amount will be divvied over several projects which require timely attention.
“The actual budget for the upcoming year’s capital projects includes approximately $350,000 for street overlays (and) $210,000 for standard issues the engineering department deals with every year (such as) routine maintenance, storm drainage, money set aside to match federal and state road grants (as well as American Disability Association) sidewalk improvements,” Wiseman said. “Finally, an additional $50,000 is proposed for the Northside Drive drainage project. All in all, I believe the city engineer (Edward Kemp) has done an excellent job putting together a program that will allow us to move forward in addressing the city’s infrastructure needs in 2012.”
Having funding left from 2011 available in this year’s budget is possible in part because the city had a clean audit, Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker said.
The board will consider accepting the final audit report for last year.
“Everything came out with no major flaws found. We were able to increase our ending fund balance while also maintaining our capital improvement balance,” Parker said. “It’s important to note that when we took office our balance was around $250,000. This being our third year, (the increased balance) is important in getting bonds and the rate we get on bonds.”
At the request of Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins, the board will hear a report from Golden Triangle Planning and Development District project analyst Phylis Benson on applying for a Community Development Block Grant through the Mississippi Development Authority. The allocation of funding for the state of Mississippi through these federal grants totals just short of $24 million to be divided among “small government competition” (towns with a population of less than 3,500) and “regular competition” (towns with a population larger than 3,500) in two categories: public facilities and economic development.
The criteria for CDBG approval includes having an area in the community where the population comprises a minimum of 51 percent of people with low-to-moderate income.
Benson said if the city was to apply for a CDBG and be accepted, it would receive a minimum of $100,000 and a maximum of $600,000. The city would have to submit an application for a CDBG between May 14-18 to be considered.
She said the $24 million the state will receive this year is down approximately $11 million from 2011 due to nationwide cuts to the program, making it even more competitive to be accepted for funding.
“We know there are needs out there. The board is just going to have to prioritize and decide what they think is the best project. I will review the rating factors and hopefully that will help them in deciding which project they’ll pursue,” she said.
Wiseman said if the city is accepted for a CDBG, the funds would likely be used to make drainage improvements on Carver Drive.
“A project that is eligible for a CDBG application and we’re hoping to be able to make an application for is the Carver Drive drainage project,” he said. “(Benson) has done some preliminary research on the income demographic of the census tract that drainage project sits in, and she believes it will meet the threshold of at least 51 percent low-to-moderate-income residents.”
The board will also consider approving a time frame for the city’s department head evaluations, a process implemented last year.
Wiseman said all seven aldermen will be part of the evaluation process this year as opposed to appointing a committee.
“Within this term the board initially elected to do a process with an evaluations committee. That worked very well but proved to be taxing on committee members that took part,” Wiseman said. “This ... will involve the board as a whole, which will allow not only the workload to be shared amongst a greater number of members, but also will provide an avenue for all board members to be involved throughout the process.”