By NATHAN GREGORY
A proposed reorganization of the City Clerk Markeeta Outlaw’s office failed due to the lack of a motion by Starkville aldermen during Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.
Outlaw’s proposed plan called for the outsourcing of the city’s procurement and purchasing processes, the relocation of the payroll clerk to the human resource office and the elimination of a records clerk position. The plan, she said would reduce personnel and audit costs.
“It strengthens the (city’s annual) audit as it pertains to grant administration. Our audit has been strong for the last four years, but our auditor tells us we’ve having some weaknesses in our grant administration that could be proved upon. By reallocating and reassigning, that’s strengthening our grant administration,” Outlaw said. “I believe that by utilizing resources already established in processing city procurements, you will hear from someone who has a procurement program that can assist the city with its procurement functions which will alleviate all the routine functions we have with procurement.”
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said by enlisting a third party to assist in such matters, the clerk’s office would be straying from the idea of retaining all aspects of city government in the confines of City Hall.
“Why do you think it’s in the best interest in the city of Starkville to send a payroll clerk under your supervision that has city clerk duties ... to another department?” Perkins asked Outlaw. “I haven’t heard anything to justify that.
“The discomforting I’m having is that over the years, the requests come to this board where, ‘We’re busy. We need this employee. We’ve got to have this,’ and we bow down and send a tax collector two blocks over to the county courthouse and we still don’t have time to run the office ... That reorganization plan is not going to work,” he added.
“The bottom line with what is happening with that reorganization plan is we get more money, we want to give the administrative assistant more money, just another salary adjustment. I’m not in favor of no other city employee getting another penny. It would have suited me if this matter weren’t even on the agenda tonight.”
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn agreed outsourcing was not a feasible option.
“If you keep outsourcing and keep outsourcing, the next thing you know you won’t have City Hall,” Vaughn said. “I’ve seen it work, and that’s why I’m unemployed right now. I’m not going to support this. I cannot.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman noted if a motion passed to implement the restructuring, it would result in a net savings of $5,000.
“The way it does that is you eliminate one position currently salaried with benefits ... and you take on additional salaries because you’re consolidating duties with remaining personnel and then you bring in the additional cost of $7,000 for the internal procurement service. Once all that’s finished, you have a net savings of $5,000.”
In other business, the board unanimously approved to hold a public hearing on amending the city’s bicycle helmet ordinance at its May 1 meeting as well as a hearing on amendments to the sidewalk ordinance.
Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey said he asked to bring the 2010 bicycle helmet ordinance back into discussion after several business owners said there is a change in behavior in the number of times and places where people will ride their bikes and the potential amount of impact it may have on business traffic as well as the current parking situation on Main Street.
“When I received an update from our courts earlier this year, I saw over half the cases held by administrative hearing court are now helmet violations. Although it hasn’t gotten to the point where it bogs the court down, it does show there is a high degree of enforcement with this ordinance,” he said.
The board also heard from Greater Starkville Development Partnership Vice President for Tourism and Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Gregory on a request from the Starkville Main Street Association Board of Trustees to suggest ways to enforce the two-hour parking rule on Main Street.
In response to Gregory’s report on SMSA’s request for stronger two-hour parking enforcement and the “White Paper” compiled by consultant Tripp Muldrow with recommendations for enforcement, Perkins said it’s best to let some things stay as they are in order not to exhaust schedules of Starkville Police Department employees due to the fact it is currently short-handed.
“If the police department is going to give a courtesy ticket downtown I want them to give courtesy ticket in Ward 6, and they don’t have the manpower to do that,” he said. “They don’t have time to be giving no friendly ticket, no first ticket, no white ticket or whatever color ticket it is.”
SPD Chief David Lindley said the possibility exists for stronger enforcement of the rule, but it would require a full-time parking enforcement officer.
“Here’s what it’s going to take: Resources. I lost 20 percent of my force last year and haven’t been able to restock yet, so we can’t add as many in to our existing officers as I need to. I’m about 10 percent short now of where I should be,” Lindley said. “We’re a skeleton force right now, but give me the resources and we can do it.”