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Wednesday, September 14, 2016 • Starkville Daily News • Page 3A

Miss. emergency agency gets
new deputy administrator
From Wire Reports
PEARL, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi
Emergency Management Agency has a new
deputy administrator.
MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson
said in a news release Tuesday David Shaw,
currently the Lafayette County Emergency
Management and Homeland Security Director, will assume the state position on Oct. 1.

Smithson says Shaw has a long career in
public safety. He worked for the Mississippi
Highway Patrol for 30 years from July 1979
to June 2009. Since 2009 he has worked as
the Director of the Lafayette County Emergency Management Agency.
Shaw is a native of Lafayette County. He
graduated from the University of Mississippi
with a bachelor's degree in public administration, majoring in law enforcement.

Mississippi gospel singers perform
for members of Congress
From Wire Reports
CLARKSDALE, Miss. (AP) — A gospel
choir and a soloist from the Mississippi Delta
are preparing to sing for members of Congress.
The Coahoma Community College Gospel Choir is made up of high school and
college students. The group will perform
Thursday in Washington during a gospel
extravaganza hosted by the Congressional

Black Caucus Foundation.
Belzoni resident Abraham Gates will perform there as a soloist. He grew up singing
at Christ Belzoni Chapel, and he has been a
member of the church since 1956.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson's district stretches through the Delta.
Thompson says he has invited other performers to the event in the past, and audiences
always respond well to singers from Mississippi.

Gulfport, USO to help those
affected by La. flooding
From Wire Reports
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — The city
of Gulfport is partnering with the United
Services Organization, Gulfport businesses, military and the fire department to send
donations to the areas of Louisiana affected
worst by flooding.
The
Sun
Herald
reports
(bit.
ly/2c7GQY5) it's the second trip for the
city in less than a month.
On Aug. 17, the city sent two truckloads

of supplies immediately after the flood waters started to recede.
Gulfport Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly said Monday the National
Guard Armory in Hammond, Louisiana,
set up a store specifically for military families.
The USO is a nonprofit that operates
two locations in Gulfport and annually provides programs and services to more than
60,000 service members and their families
in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Tupelo employees to see pay raise
From Wire Reports
TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — More than 450
City of Tupelo employees will see a pay increase come Oct. 1.
Mayor Jason Shelton spoke Tuesday with
the City Council about the 2017 fiscal budget,

BUDGET
From page 1A

with a projected total revenue of around $20.05
million. Of the amount, nearly $5.9 million will
be financed through Tuesday's approved tax levy.
The funding year runs from October to September 30 of next year.
The new tax levy will include a new millage rate of 25.58 mills, an increase from 21.98.
The increases stem from bond payments on the
Starkville Police Department project and the
impending county industrial park site north of
Starkville. Aldermen diverted 1-mill for the SPD
project, and 2.6 mills for the industrial park project.
Residents of Oktibbeha County will also see
two more millage rate increases, 1-mill for the
county's overall road and bridges fund and 1.75
mills for the industrial park. In total, the combined city and county increases will sit at 6.35
mills.
Both projects were major topics throughout
the last six months, and demolition on SPD
headquarters began at the end of August, with
development officials still coordinating due diligence efforts at the industrial park site to prepare
the site for cultural artifact mitigation.
"This millage increase is to fund the police department as well as the industrial park, and we
are excited about the prospects of funding those,"
said Ward 5 Alderman and Budget Committee
Chairman Scott Maynard.
Ward 2 Alderman Lisa Wynn thanked Maynard for his work with compiling the lengthy
document.
The city's budget also includes new pay
progression plans for Starkville Utilities, the
Starkville Fire Department and sanitation department. The new plans will cost the city $40,000
for the utilities department; $75,000 for the sanitation department and approximately $100,000
for the SFD plan.
Separately, aldermen took another step in
cleaning up city employee pay issues by including
the increased minimum pay for staffers to $10
an hour. The increase will take effect July 2017,
unlike the other progression plans, which take effect immediately. The move to shore up salary
compression issues within the city won't require
a tax increase, officials confirmed.
As part of the restructuring of the Starkville
Parks and Recreation Department, aldermen
adopted a new organizational format for SPRD
by adding two new positions to shore up middle

which WTVA-TV reports (bit.ly/2c7diEO
) includes a three percent pay increase for
roughly 461 full-time employees.
The Council approved the budget unanimously.
This is the first employee salary increase in
seven years.
management issues in the under-staffed department. The board approved adding a new director
of maintenance and a director of sports and recreation to assist SPRD Director Herman Peters in
managing the department.
Around $100,000 was included in the parks
budget for the new positions, which will be
advertised after the Oct. 4 board meeting. The
restructuring comes after the board adopted a
master plan document for SPRD. Facility and
maintenance issues have hurt the department,
and were major indicators in the master plan for
restructuring the department.
"We wanted a plan for addressing the size of
staffing for SPRD, and also the organization's
structure," said Mayor Parker Wiseman. "The
one thing that is striking about the old chart is
that it had no middle. For any organization that
is larger than three or four people, that is not
ideal."
The firm in charge of the master plan designated five of Starkville's eight parks a "poor" rating, while three parks received satisfactory marks
from planning staff. The Sportsplex and Patriot's
Park earned "good" ratings, while Fire Station
Park—which hosts the Starkville Community
Market—earned a "perfect" rating.
"I think this is a bid first step in improving the
parks," said Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker. "It's
very clear that we've had deficiencies in our staffing. I believe that the recommendations from the
master plan puts us in a good step."
In July, Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver offered a motion to remove Peters from his position, but the item died without a second. The
board has been critical of the department since
its 2015 takeover of the group. In 2014 while
under private control, the department went over
budget and could not satisfy utility or payroll
payments. The problems prompted the city's
take over, and the arrearages were settled after
an aggressive payment plan was implemented
by alderman.
During the public comments section of the
meeting, Oktibbeha County NAACP President
Chris Taylor spoke in defense of Peters, acknowledging that his department was understaffed to
handle the maintenance and field up-keep issues.
The master plan also calls for creating three
additional full-time employee positions with the
maintenance staff, coordinating staff and custodial staff, Wiseman said. The additional positions
were not included in the 2017 budget.
To view a copy of the budget, download the
September 13 agenda at cityofstarkville.org.

In this June 6, 2015, file photo, a customer, bottom, pays for goods while shopping
at the Atlanta Farmers Market in Atlanta. Americans finally got a raise in 2015 after
seven years of stagnating incomes, driven by big gains among the poorest households,
according to information provided by the Census Bureau, Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Higher
minimum wages in many states and tougher competition among businesses to fill jobs
pushed up pay, while low inflation made those paychecks stretch further. (AP Photo/
David Goldman, File)

Americans got raise last year
for first time since 2007
By CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER and
JESSE J. HOLLAND
Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a long-awaited sign that middle-class Americans are finally
seeing real economic gains, U.S. households
got a raise last year after seven years of stagnant incomes. Rising pay also lifted the poorest households, cutting poverty by the sharpest
amount in nearly a half-century.
Higher minimum wages in many states and
tougher competition among businesses to fill
jobs pushed up pay, while low inflation made
those paychecks stretch further. The figures
show that the growing economy is finally benefiting a greater share of American households.
The median U.S. household's income rose
5.2 percent in 2015 to an inflation-adjusted
level of $56,516, the Census Bureau said Tuesday . That is the largest one-year gain on data
stretching back to 1967. It is up 7.3 percent
from 2012, when incomes fell to a 17-year
low.
Still, median incomes remain 1.6 below the
$57,423 reached in 2007. The median is the
point where half of households fall below and
half are above.
The report "was superb in almost every dimension," Larry Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute, said on a conference call with reporters. "This one year almost
single-handedly got us out of the hole."
Even so, it follows years of tepid pay gains
that contributed to widespread political turmoil, driving insurgent presidential candida-

cies from GOP nominee Donald Trump and
Sen. Bernie Sanders. Median household income remains 2.4 percent below the peak it
reached in 1999.
The solid gain will likely impact the presidential campaign. Incomes are now higher
than in 2009 when President Obama took office.
The Census report shows that the increase
was driven by the poorest Americans, who
saw the largest increase. Half of the states and
Washington, D.C. have increased their minimum wages since 2014, according to the EPI.
Greater competition for low-wage jobs has
also pushed up wages. The unemployment rate
fell from 6.2 percent to 5.3 percent last year,
and 2.4 million Americans found full-time,
year-round jobs. That's forced restaurants and
retail employers to lift pay to attract workers.
WalMart, TJX Cos., which owns T.J. Maxx,
and the Gap have all announced pay increases
in the past two years. Starbucks said in July
it would boost pay for all its employees by 5
percent later this year.
Income for the poorest 10 percent of
households jumped 7.9 percent last year, while
for the wealthiest 10 percent, incomes rose just
2.9 percent. That narrowed the gap between
the two groups by the largest amount on record.
The proportion of Americans in poverty
also fell sharply last year, to 13.5 percent from
nearly 14.8 percent. That is the biggest decline
in poverty since 1968. There were 43.1 million people in poverty last year, 3.5 million
fewer than in 2014.

Oktibbeha County
Annual Membership Meeting
When:

Thursday, September 15th

Meal:

6:30 p.m.

Place:

MAFES Conference Center
(Bullbarn)

What:

Annual Meeting of Membership

Please call by September 14th, 12:00
noon so we can count you in for the meal.
Our number is 662-323-5662.