August 2, 2013 10:10:06 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Stennis Institute of Government Director Marty Wiseman confirmed he has been invited to discuss various Mississippi municipal government forms to a group of residents at 3:30 p.m. today at the Thad Cochran Research Park's multi-tenant building.
The meeting came to fruition when concerned citizens potentially interested in a change of government asked Wiseman to speak on the merits of allowable forms of government, ranging from mayor-council to council-manager setups.
Wiseman, who is Mayor Parker Wiseman's father, said he was invited as an expert in the field - the Stennis director recently spent a training session lecturing similar topics with Mississippi Municipal League officials - and is not behind a push to change Starkville's government.
Discussions of a potential change in Starkville's government began after the new board of aldermen assumed their duties July 1 and met harsh public criticism for removing former Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill from her position on July 23.
"A number of people raised the question and asked if there is a better form of government available," Marty Wiseman said. "We have met with residents who were trying to get some consideration for a mayor-council government rather than the code-charter form three different times over 20 years."
Larger, more progressive cities, including Tupelo, Meridian and Hattiesburg, have a mayor-council form of government, the Stennis director said.
"The bigger a city gets, the more cumbersome it becomes to try to deal with a code-charter government," Marty Wiseman said. "I've had numerous calls, and I've told people if they're serious about undertaking the petitioning and educational aspects, I will go over the steps that are needed. I don't want to be perceived as pushing it, but I will consult with a group that is interested in the educational aspect."
It is unknown how many Starkville residents are considering a potential change in government form or if a petition for such a shift has begun circulating within the community.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch