Starkville makes do amid hiring freeze

September 5, 2009 8:20:00 PM

Tim Pratt -


STARKVILLE -- The hiring freeze approved Tuesday by the Starkville Board of Aldermen will leave some offices short-handed, but city department heads Thursday acknowledged it was a necessary move and said they aren''t too worried. 


The hiring freeze, effective until Dec. 31, impacts the Starkville Police Department, the water and landscape division of the Public Services Department, the Electric Department, the Street Department and the Fire Department. The five departments can''t hire any new employees to fill vacant positions until the end of the year unless a current employee leaves and his or her position becomes available. 


The Starkville Electric Department has eight vacant positions that were frozen, City Accountant Debbie Clark said; the water division has four vacancies frozen; landscape has one; the Fire Department and Street Department each have one, and the Starkville Police Department has three, Clark said.  


Clark and Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill believe the hiring freeze will help the city save enough money to fill a $408,000 budget shortfall. And Spruill Thursday reaffirmed the hiring freeze is only temporary. 


"It''s only going to be for a short period of time," Spruill said. "The department heads determined that in a short period of time they could (handle the hiring freeze) be all right." 


Mayor Parker Wiseman earlier this week said the freeze "won''t grind anything to a halt" and will leave enough city personnel to "keep the ship floating on." 


The Fire Department''s only vacancy is an administrative position, Chief Rodger Mann said, so residents shouldn''t worry about a lack of firefighters.  


"From a firefighter''s standpoint, it''s not going to have any impact on me," Mann said. 


The Starkville Police Department''s three vacancies are a result of officers who have been deployed for military service, Chief David Lindley said.  


Lindley said he''s not concerned about an officer shortage, noting it''s a necessary means to help the city budget. 


"We''re all trying to work together to help the city overcome this one-time situation," Lindley said.  


Doug Devlin, head of the Public Services Department, said he''s not worried about being short-staffed, either. 


"We''re going to have to try it and see if we can get by," Devlin said. 


City Engineer Edward Kemp, who is head of the Street Department, and Edd Hattaway, head of the Electric Department, are out of town until next week and were unavailable for comment.