October 3, 2012 9:51:46 AM
City Attorney Chris Latimer was called on Tuesday night at the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting to explain why, in the case of a veto, abstentions count toward an override.
"The law simply changed," Latimer said. "Abstentions now count for the majority vote."
With Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn abstaining at the board's Sept. 18 meeting, a 3-2 result in favor of removing an emergency access gate at the end Douglas MacArthur Drive was passed.
But Mayor Parker Wiseman immediately announced that he planned on vetoing the motion, which has been wildly opposed by residents of the Green Oaks subdivision, and, at the time, Wiseman was under the impression that abstentions would not count toward an override vote.
"A new opinion seemed to contradict that," Wiseman said Tuesday night before allowing Latimer to explain in more detail.
Despite his findings, Wiseman said he still plans on vetoing the motion. Because the board passed the Sept. 18 minutes at Tuesday's meeting, he now has 10 days to submit the veto.
According to Latimer, a recent revision to the opinion of the state's Attorney General regarding abstentions in overrides means that if the board's vote on the Douglas MacArthur gate remained the same, the board would have the state-mandated five votes needed to override the mayor's veto.
Though fewer than the Sept. 18 meeting, some Green Oaks residents addressed the aldermen during the citizen comment period.
More than one resident pleaded with Dumas and Vaughn to reconsider their abstentions, to let the public know where the two aldermen stood on the issue.
When the matter was addressed in board business, Dumas explained his reasoning.
"The sole reason I abstained last time is because I had significant legal questions," said Dumas, who spoke earlier in the meeting on the need for more effective city planning, in order to avoid situations like this one.
"We have had ample discussion at this board table about the need for regulations," he continued. "We are often chastised for it because we want to take a longer look at certain things ... you always have to consider the impact of your neighbor."
The matter will likely be addressed at the board's Oct. 16 meeting.
In other business, the aldermen voted 5-2 to approve a $1.5 million Capital Improvements Revolving Loan Program (CAP Loan) that will provide sewage utilities to southwest portions of Starkville annexed in 1998, as well as address storm water and sewage issues on Carver Drive and in the Woodland Heights area. Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver and Vaughn voted against the proposal.
Of the $1.5 million, approximately $1.03 million will go to the utility access for southwest Starkville, and $469,533 will go to improvements to Carver Drive and Woodland Heights.
Debt serviced from its water and sewer enterprise fund will help the city pay for the loan, according to Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk, who added that no rate increase will be required.
The board also gave consent for extending the hours of the closing of Main Street on Oct. 12 for "Pumpkin Palooza.'' The extended time will allow for additional time to set up for Maroon Madness.
In its second year, Maroon Madness is the kick-off for the Mississippi State men's and women's basketball teams. Instead of Main Street being closed from 4-8 p.m. next Friday, it will be closed from 3-10 p.m.
The event will begin at 6 p.m.