Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
In voicing her opposition to a proposal to seek a grant for repairing the drainage ditch along Carver Drive, Ward 2 Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk was blunt.
“I still say it’s not the worst problem we have in town,” she said, during Tuesday’s Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting,.
But it may well be the longest-running problem.
“We’ve been fighting this for 30 years,” Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said, his voice choked with emotion.
The Aldermen voted 4-to-3 against approving the application for the Community Development Block Grant, which had to be submitted by Friday to meet grant qualifications
Aldermen Sistrunk, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Caver, Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey and Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker voted against applying for the grant. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Vaughn voted to apply.
The debate over the proposal was waged primarily between Mayor Parker Wiseman, a strong advocate for the proposal, and Sistrunk.
“This is something the city has grappled with for years,” Wiseman said. “During that time, there have been many different options. However, because of the political turmoil, there has been a stalemate and a reluctance to accept any of those proposals. Now, this grant presents a viable option. From a financial standpoint, it’s achievable. I do support it.”
Phylis Benson of the Golden Triangle Planning & Development Partnership prepared the grant application for the city, under which the city could apply for a maximum grant to cover $600,000 of the estimated $940,995 cost of the project. The balance would require the city to put up $110,000 cash, with the remainder coming through in-kind services, provided primarily by the city’s street departments. With $60,000 in cash designated for the Carver Drive drainage project from the previous budget, the city would have needed an additional $50,000 in cash.
“This proposal has been discussed extensively and we’ve had great public support for it,” said Perkins, in whose ward the drainage ditch is located. “This isn’t politics; it’s about serving the health and welfare of our citizens.”
But Sistrunk turned a critical eye on the proposal, detailing a laundry list of concerns.
“Budget overruns would become the responsibility of the city,” she said. “The other thing that concerns me is the in-kind services. You’re talking about $110,000 out of pocket, but the out-of-pocket costs for the in-kind services have to be considered as well, (including) gas, repairs and maintenance of our equipment, man-hours. We’re talking another $15,000 to $20,000 in overruns. It’s one thing to put numbers on paper, but we need to be aware that worse than getting a grant is getting a grant for a project you can’t complete.”
Read complete article at the Columbus Dispatch.