July 16, 2021
A forward-thinking approach to managing local water and sewer infrastructure needs is earning the City of Starkville statewide recognition from the Mississippi Municipal League.
Implemented by Starkville Utilities, the city’s comprehensive plan to modernize utility services will be recognized in the public works category for populations over 10,000 during MML’s Excellence Awards program in Biloxi on July 28.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for the work we’re doing to prepare for the future and support Starkville’s continued growth,” said Terry Kemp, general manager of Starkville Utilities. “Credit goes to both the Board of Alderman for their continued support and our employees who are working hard to keep projects on schedule and on budget while minimizing impacts to customers.Through our FutureFOCUS initiative, we’re making the right investments today that will benefit customers and the community for many years to come.”
The Mississippi Municipal League’s awards program recognizes cities for meeting the challenges of municipal government through innovative problem solving, excellence in management, citizen participation and striving to provide a higher level of service.
As part of its five-year capital improvement plan, Starkville Utilities is investing more than $25 million to replace aging portions of the city’s water and sewer services and update critical components at its wastewater treatment facility.
Awarding-winning projects highlight Starkville Utilities’ focus on innovative technologies that enhance efficiency, reliability and longevity. Examples include the Pleasant Acres neighborhood full water and sewer infrastructure upgrade; the Green Oaks sewer upgrade, which has involved the use of minimally invasive, cured-in-place robotic technology; and the installation of dewatering equipment at the wastewater treatment plant — an environmentally sustainable process that creates a usable byproduct from sewage sludge.
Citizen participation has been an important part of the city’s planning process. An example is the water main and sidewalk replacement project on North Montgomery, where project planners preserved trees along the route that were of significance to area residents.
“The Mississippi Municipal League’s award program is about responsible stewardship and being responsive to the community’s needs and concerns,” said Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill. “That’s the model we strive to follow in creating value and long-term benefits for Starkville. The city’s $12.5 million investment in infrastructure is paying dividends through reduced maintenance costs, a higher quality of services and a stronger relationship with the people we are entrusted to serve. We think that’s the right direction in building toward the future.”
Project planners also have worked to minimize long-term financial impacts to residents by funding improvements through periodic rate adjustments, not taxes. Thanks to responsible fiscal management, Starkville Utilities’ customers have some of the lowest rates in Mississippi when compared to similarly sized municipalities.
Federal grant assistance is another successful strategy being used to control costs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funded 80% of the $1.2 million Green Oaks project through a competitive grant process.
“Our strategy centers around managing costs responsibly and making the right decisions to ensure our customers continue enjoying affordable, reliable utility services,” Kemp said. “Before 2018, water and sewer rates rose only two times over a 30-year period. Being proactive about service improvements will help us lay the groundwork for even greater success in the future.”
Starkville Utilities is a public utility serving 14,000 residences, businesses and industries in Starkville, Mississippi as well as Mississippi State University. Its mission is to supply safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric and water service of superior quality and value that improves the lives of its customers.