August 17, 2011 12:15:00 PM
To help paint the picture of Starkville''s municipal master plan, the city launched a website Tuesday to answer citizen inquiries.
Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas unveiled the site -- cityofstarkville.org/masterplan -- during the regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen meeting.
The site lays out maps of the two phases of the master plan, which includes an $8.45 million project to build a new police station and renovation and expansion of City Hall. The presentation Dumas used at the Aug. 2 meeting to outline the master plan and its costs was incorporated into the new site.
The site provides an explanation of the issues of the current police station and City Hall -- the latter of which doesn''t meet building and fire codes -- and the need for renovation and new buildings. The site also provides preliminary drawings of both facilities.
The most interactive feature of the site addresses the most consequential aspect of the plan to citizens: taxes. The city will hold a special election for the police-station bond issue on Sept. 27, with the deadline for citizens to register to vote on Aug. 27. Prior to voting, homeowners now have the chance to see how much their property taxes will increase simply by entering their true property value at the new website.
"We wanted to have something that was more visible to the public and had interactive tools," city Information Technology Manager Joel Clements said. "It was done completely from scratch, with the exception of the source materials of the renderings from Shaffer Architects (of Starkville) and the verbiage from the committee. We hope the public utilizes it."
Should the referendum pass in September, the site will be the portal for updates on the progress for the police station and other developments with the master plan. The city would need a 60-percent yes vote to issue bond for the project.
The site will soon have detailed architects'' renderings for both facilities and photos of the current City Hall to detail the deficiencies of the building.
Clements said he will use Google Analytics to keep tabs on user traffic, which will allow him to track hits down to the town level.
"We felt the best way to advocate for the master plan was to develop a site," Dumas said. "Through our strategic plan activities, we decided an IT department was needed. This is one of the benefits of having an IT department. I see this as a very powerful tool moving forward."
1. Coach Marsh will be remembered COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY