The Starkville Board of Aldermen will deal with redistricting, but not until a couple more pressing matters are addressed.
The board received a preliminary report during its Tuesday meeting from Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill regarding what steps it will have to take to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Specifically, Ward 1 and Ward 3, the only wards to have grown since the 2000 Census, will have to lose some citizens as city officials attempt to reach the magic number of 3,413 citizens in each ward.
A perfect distribution of Starkville”s 23,888 citizens isn”t required and the city is allowed to have a 10 percent disparity between the highest and lowest populated wards, but Spruill told the board she believes that disparity can be held to one percent. The ward lines will be moved to accomplish this without diluting minority wards, without carving any of the aldermen out of their own wards and, hopefully, without removing any standing committee members from the city”s various citizen committees.
But all of that will have to wait. As Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins suggested, the board chose to put off redistricting until the matters of the city budget and hearings regarding a new municipal complex are handled.
A possible work session on redistricting could be held around late September or early October to review several maps proposing various plans to distribute the city”s population.
A town hall meeting is scheduled for July 12 at 6 p.m. to discuss preliminary concepts for the municipal complex, which will likely be constructed on the northern corner of Highway 182 and Jackson Street.
And now the city has another new facility to consider funding should it fulfill a request from the nonprofit Brickfire Project.
Cheikh Taylor, executive deputy director for Brickfire, presented the board a proposal to build a new $3.2 million facility in Ward 7 to serve 120 city and county children and provide 12 full-time jobs.
The project is in its early stages, but would primarily be funded by a grant from Housing and Urban Development.
Taylor proposed the city contribute $80,000 to the project while the Starkville Housing Authority would commit $60,000 and Oktibbeha County contribute $15,000.
Perkins expressed his shock that Brickfire would ask the city for $80,000 and the county for just $15,000.
“If we”re asked for $80,000, you need to ask them for $80,000,” said Perkins.
The HUD grant application is due July 21.
In other business the board:
- Heard from Police Chief David Lindley who explained the department was seeking five new officers following the resignation of five current officers. Lindley said the resigning officers were moving to the Mississippi Highway Patrol, due in part to a base salary of $37,000 with MHP, as opposed to $35,000 with the city.
Lindley”s explanation was in response to an inquiry from citizen Milo Burnham.
- Received a report from Spruill on the progress of various road projects.
Spruill said she expects APAC to begin an expansive overlay project next week. That project is scheduled to conclude by Aug. 2.
She also reported that Ellis Construction, which is completing the Pat Station Roadway Extension Project, has been operating in the penalty phase since June 21. Ellis Construction was granted an extension on the project in May.
- Held the first public hearing on proposed changes to the city”s solid waste ordinance.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.