August 17, 2011 12:13:00 PM
Starkville''s fiscal year 2012 budget was adopted Tuesday night with no new opposition from citizens or board members.
The $16.26 million budget, which went through its second public hearing in two weeks, passed with a 3-2 vote; Aldermen Roy A. Perkins and Henry Vaughn voted against it; Aldermen Ben Carver and Richard Corey were not present at the time of the vote.
The budget has an ending fund balance of $775,000 and no tax increases. But like the last board meeting, the budget drew hefty criticism from Perkins over the lack of money allocated to street overlay and drainage issues, particularly for citizens in his ward who live near the Carver Drive ditch.
Perkins explained to Alderwoman Sandra Sistrunk, head of the budget committee, that the $200,000 in new money for capital investments is insufficient for street projects of any kind.
Perkins also noted smaller allocations, like the $50,000 devoted to the South Montgomery Street traffic-patterns study and the mayor''s project line of $20,000 as examples of finding money to fund the incomplete ditch on Carver Drive. However, Perkins said he does support the South Montgomery project.
Keeping the ending fund balance at its current level helps the city acquire better bond ratings, but Perkins noted the city had operated with lower balances in the past and should give more consideration to what he called a "delinquent issue."
"I am not voting tonight because it does not have funding for quality of life issues," Perkins said. "It seems like there''s a lack of interest to earmark money for Carver Drive. Those residents are just as important as other residents. They want the foul smell and odors to be eliminated."
Sistrunk responded by reminding the board that the budget will be amended multiple times throughout the year and that it''s "very likely" funds will be identified for capital investments before the end of 2012.
Sistrunk also pointed out that the city has dedicated $90,000 to the Carver Drive ditch over the last two years, which was more than half the city''s drainage budget.
Perkins said he will soon provide a detailed report to the board as to the status of the ditch.
In other matters, the board:
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4. Columbus man charged with downtown robbery COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Boycott planned over Ricky Ball shooting COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY