2% funds are im­prov­ing parks and pay­ing down bonds

Starkville Daily News - - FORUM -

I read with some con­cern Dr. Leach's opinion piece of Sun­day, May 27, 2018. I ap­pre­ci­ate his de­vo­tion to the Starkville Parks and ap­plaud him for his ac­tive role on be­half of the parks and the im­por­tance they hold in our com­mu­nity.

I agree with him that we need to do much bet­ter. Let me, how­ever, cor­rect two sig­nif­i­cant er­rors which drive most of the rest of his com­ments.

First, the state­ment that the bonds for the Sport­splex have long been paid off is in­cor­rect. These bonds to which 2% money is di­rected do not ma­ture un­til 2027 and thus we are ab­so­lutely still pay­ing them off and will be for an­other 9 years. They were and have al­ways been 20 year bonds taken out in 2007. We did re­cently re­fi­nance them to achieve a bet­ter in­ter­est rate, but they con­tinue to re­quire the com­mit­ment of 2% funds.

Ad­di­tion­ally we do not re­ceive $250,000 monthly from our 2% food and bev­er­age tax. I only wish! In the year 2017 the city re­ceived ap­prox­i­mately $65,500 per month: a far cry from $250,000 stated by Dr. Leach.

The 2% funds are only avail­able for capital im­prove­ments whereas the money we spend from the gen­eral fund go to salaries, util­i­ties and main­te­nance. All things for which the 2% funds are not au­tho­rized. The park sys­tem in the City of Starkville re­ceives the most in gen­eral funds be­hind the po­lice and fire de­part­ments.

We have be­gun to im­ple­ment those rec­om­men­da­tions from the master plan. We have made changes both in per­son­nel struc­ture and in im­prove­ments to our var­i­ous park ar­eas. We re­cently added play­ground equip­ment to the J.L. King Park that was a capital ex­pen­di­ture of ap­prox­i­mately $60,000. We also im­proved the bath­room fa­cil­i­ties at the same park and re­placed the roof on one of the pavil­ions there. Those are all capital im­prove­ments.

We are mak­ing im­prove­ments to the Need­more Cen­ter and have put in new floor­ing and resur­faced the bas­ket­ball floors at the Sport­splex. We have also been work­ing on Mon­crief Park at the dog park and at the swim­ming pool get­ting ready for the sum­mer.

As we are work­ing through the master plan we have tried to be fis­cally cau­tious about the im­prove­ments so as not to put mega dol­lars into things that will need to be torn out to im­ple­ment the master plan. Re­gret­tably that pru­dence makes it ap­pear that we are do­ing noth­ing.

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LYNN SPRUILL

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