June 19, 2020 10:31:30 AM
Starkville aldermen voted 3-1 in a special-call meeting Thursday to allow some city firefighters, police and utilities employees to attend necessary and recently available training, making an exception to their decision in April to suspend all new travel and equipment purchases until further notice.
The training opportunities for all three departments were postponed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and only just became available again, and employees from other cities are signing up quickly for a limited number of training slots, Mayor Lynn Spruill said.
Aldermen Sandra Sistrunk of Ward 2, Jason Walker of Ward 4 and Hamp Beatty of Ward 5 voted for the training. Vice Mayor Roy A. Perkins of Ward 6 voted no and said he did not want to make an exception to the travel suspension, which is one of several cost-cutting measures the board enacted in response to the expected sales tax revenue shortfall as a result of the pandemic.
Aldermen Ben Carver of Ward 1, David Little of Ward 3 and Henry Vaughn of Ward 7 were absent.
Starkville Fire Department will send up to five firefighters, all hired within the past year, to certification training required by state law that will cost $6,800, Training Chief Clarence Parks said. SFD will also send a maximum of seven more employees to fire instructor training that is necessary for promotions and will cost $1,800.
The police department will send two employees to motorcycle training, since motorcycles are becoming increasingly important to the department, Chief Mark Ballard said. The class would normally cost $2,100 per person but instead is free thanks to the department's membership in the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers' Association, he said.
Starkville Utilities general manager Terry Kemp said the department will send at least two employees to the first of at least two trainings hosted by the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association. More employees are on standby in case more positions in the training open up, Kemp said.
The cost is built into the department but totals about $2,000 per person, he said.
Sistrunk, the board's budget chairperson, said the board is not revisiting the budget cuts and other cost-saving measures yet, "but I expect that will be happening over the next two or three or four weeks."
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