MAYOR

Starkville Daily News - - AROUND TOWN -

per­sonal use. If by some chance Howard was on city busi­ness, elected or ap­pointed of­fi­cials are sup­posed to get per­mis­sion from their gov­ern­ing bod­ies be­fore go­ing out of state on pub­lic busi­ness. The Aberdeen Board of Al­der­men has au­tho­rized such a trip ac­cord­ing to a re­view of city records.

In ad­di­tion, he is sup­posed to re­port the use of the city-owned car as in­come on his taxes, es­pe­cially if it is be­ing made avail­able for per­sonal use or is driven vir­tu­ally all the rime. Ac­cord­ing to the FOI in­for­ma­tion ob­tained from the city, the car is not re­ported on his W2. It is un­clear whether he re­ports it on his taxes and pays taxes for its use.

Howard has two per­sonal ve­hi­cles reg­is­tered in his name in Mon­roe County.

This is not the first time questions have arisen about Howard's use of his city car. Last fall, he was ques­tioned af­ter the car showed up on re­peated morn­ings at Core Fit­ness in Colum­bus. At the time, Howard de­nied any wrong and chal­lenged a re­porter to, "Get a life," say­ing he was in Colum­bus for early morn­ing meet­ings with lawyers and oth­ers as part of ef­forts to re­cruit busi­ness to Aberdeen.

He stopped at the fit­ness cen­ter on his way back to Aberdeen, he said at the time.

When asked about the Aberdeen car be­ing in his town, Lin­den Po­lice Chief Robert Al­ston Jr. chuck­led, say­ing, "It's not some­thing you see very of­ten."

"It wasn't re­ally hid­den, you could see it from the road (High­way 28). The of­fi­cer just wanted to make sure it wasn't stolen. He did a good job," the chief said. "Once we con­firmed

it wasn't stolen, we didn't in­quire any­more, just kept an eye on it."

The lat­est questions couldn't come at a worse time as the city and Mon­roe County could be on the verge of land­ing as many as 150 jobs, the first ma­jor in­flux of jobs in the com­mu­nity in 15 years.

The city and county are work­ing to lure Brad­bury Lo­gis­tics and Ser­vices, an en­er­gy­ef­fi­cient build­ing ma­te­rial man­u­fac­turer, to lease part of the build­ing now oc­cu­pied by Hol­ley Per­for­mance, which is end­ing its 18year lease on the site ef­fec­tive May 30.

The city and county jointly own the build­ing, which is lo­cated on High­way 45

Aberdeen al­der­men ap­proved el­e­ments of the deal at their April 3 meet­ing and su­per­vi­sors fol­lowed suit.

If the deal comes through, Brad­bury, which is based in Ft. Val­ley, Ga., would in­vest as much as $1.1 mil­lion in the 67,000-square-foot front sec­tion of the build­ing to get in ready. As part of the in­cen­tives, if Brad­bury meets all the terms of the agree­ment, it can oc­cupy the build­ing vir­tu­ally rent free for 20 years.

It also would get heap elec­tric­ity from the city's util­ity, al­though that would have to be ap­proved by the Tennessee Val­ley Au­thor­ity.

Howard ran on an eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment cam­paign two years ago and says he has made jobs a pri­or­ity since tak­ing of­fice. He told al­der­men he'd been work­ing on the Brad­bury deal since meet­ing the group through a mu­tual con­tact in 2016. He said the com­pany looked in Prairie be­fore go­ing to Greenville. Un­able to find a lo­ca­tion there, the com­pany turned its sights back to Aberdeen, Howard told city and county lead­ers.

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