District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer questioned the structure of Oktibbeha County”s government Monday.
Trainer, who is frequently the lone dissenter on the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, pitched the possibility of taking the county in two polar opposite directions during Monday”s meeting. On one hand, he said the supervisors would be allowed to react to constituent concerns more quickly under the beat system, but on the other hand, a consolidated Starkville/Oktibbeha government could provide greater synergy and cooperation between the city and the county.
All Trainer knows is that he”s not happy with the unit system currently utilized by Oktibbeha County. He expressed his intent to research alternative government structures, host public hearings to gather citizen feedback and report to the board in the future. But he was leaning toward the beat system Monday.
“There”s a lot of concern by the people in my district. Oktibbeha is missing out on value when the supervisors are limited. People want improvement on the roads, we”re behind on cutting and a lot of things,” said Trainer. “If we were on the beat system I could step in right away.”
The beat system of county government gives supervisors greater autonomy over their respective districts. It allocates equipment and employees to each district which the supervisor can direct without the consent of the majority of the board of supervisors. Each district even sets its own millage rates.
Trainer”s fellow supervisors argued that the beat system wouldn”t solve the backlog of roadwork because it wouldn”t expand the county”s budget or allow the county to hire more workers.
“The only flexibility I saw from what you just said is if a supervisor himself is going to hop on a bulldozer,” said District 5 Supervisor John Young.
The board showed little appetite for discussing a return to the beat system, but no supervisors had a problem with Trainer using the courthouse to host public hearings on the topic.
Trainer was similarly alone earlier in the meeting when he opposed County Engineer Clyde Pritchard”s suggestion the county draft a new ordinance setting guidelines on which privately built roads the county agrees to maintain.
Pritchard said the requirements set forth in the current ordinance, drafted in 1993, are too lenient and lead to poorly built roads which the county will have to repair. Trainer agreed with the principle of drafting new guidelines, but wanted to go the opposite direction and relax the requirements.
“I don”t like the ”93 guidelines. They”re too stringent,” said Trainer. “When you raise the standards, you raise the cost of the roads and (developers) will have to charge more to customers. In essence, you”re driving the price up.”
Trainer claimed higher home prices triggered by more expensive roads will limit the housing options available to families with lower incomes.
Supervisors argued with Trainer that citizens already bear the cost of cheaply built roads through tax dollars.
“We can pay on the front end or on the back end,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board President Marvell Howard. “In the long run (Pritchard) is looking out for taxpayers by not accepting subpar built roads.”
The motion to draft a new road ordinance passed 4-1 with Trainer opposing.
In other business the board:
- Unanimously authorized a new sign ordinance for the county which requires street signs to be constructed from retroreflective materials. The materials cause the signs to appear brighter when illuminated, as by a car”s headlights.
- Agreed unanimously to set the depth at which utility lines must be buried on county right of ways at 36 inches.
- Heard from Mike Borland, of 21 Apartments, who requested the board place a crosswalk across Oktoc Road and Blackjack Road near the roundabout at the roads” intersection to assist 21 Apartments residents who walk to campus safely cross the busy streets. The board took the request under advisement but stated it must confer with Mississippi State University officials before making any decisions. MSU intends to build two new residence halls near the corner of Blackjack Road and Hardy Road which could effect pedestrian routes.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.