Starkville citizens impatient with petition verification

By ROBBIE WARD

Daily Journal Starkville Bureau

STARKVILLE – Residents asked city officials Tuesday to count about 2,600 signatures collected in less than a month to ask for a referendum to vote on a $5 million bond issue expected to finance a municipal justice complex.

Matt Cox, who helped collect signatures for the petition, asked the Starkville Board of Aldermen to “honor its commitment by allowing a vote.”

“City resources are being used to conduct a coercive to deny the people of Starkville the right to vote,” Cox said.

The city board voted to approve up to $5 million in bonds for a municipal justice complex to be built on city-acquired land in the western part of Starkville. Some want a more central location for the public building while others say taxes will increase.

Stephanie Mallette, an attorney representing the police organization, said officers were being misrepresented by Cox and others who want a referendum for the bond issue. She also accused people who encouraged citizens to sign the petition of giving inaccurate information about the justice complex.

State law requires a referendum on the bond issue if 10-percent or 1,500 of the qualified electors file a written protest of the bonds. No statute outlines a time when the election would be held after the required signatures are turned in to the city.

City Attorney Katherine Kerby said the city is abiding by state and city statutes by verifying qualified voters on city voter roles.