City leaders discuss a vaccination mandate for Starkville city employees

Starkville city leaders are considering the possibility of a vaccination mandate for all city employees.

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Starkville may become the second city in Mississippi, after Jackson, to require vaccinations for all city employees.

A vaccination policy will soon come before the board of aldermen in Starkville.

“It is important for us to be available to the public and do our job,” Mayor Lynn Spruill said.

City leaders said they are listening to both sides as they consider a vaccination policy for city workers.

Mayor Lynn Spruill said she believes requiring the vaccine could keep both employees and citizens safe.

“One of the things that I had been waiting for before proposing some response by the city was the FDA approval. And so, once, last Monday I believe, the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the FDA, I felt it was time for us to look seriously at how we address our vaccination rate in our employees. We interact with the public. We have a sacred trust and that is to keep the public safe, to keep our employees safe,” Mayor Spruill said.

But there is some push-back. District 1 Alderman Ben Carver said he knows firsthand that city employees have some reservations about a mandate.

“I think it’s going to be detrimental to the city and some of our long-term city employees. I’ve already gotten a lot of calls from employees that have either already had COVID or have an extremely healthy lifestyle. You know, if they’ve already had COVID they feel like they have the antibody. So we are going to lose several employees that just want to have that choice,” Alderman Carver said.

Mayor Spruill maintains the proposed policy is about public health and safety.

“My biggest concern is that we protect the public. The employees of the city of Starkville are public servants and we interact with the public on a regular basis. The ones that you most strongly encourage are your first responders because they’re the ones that are going to people that are at their most vulnerable. They’re hurt or they’re frightened or they’re in need of that contact,” Mayor Spruill said.

Carver said if the policy passes and first responders leave their jobs, there could be consequences.

“I know the fire department already down 11 employees. I’m looking for 6 or 7 or 8 more resignations that could our fire rating, it could affect life, safety, health issues. It’s something that this board and mayor that if they pass this, it could shut down a couple departments temporarily,” Alderman Carver said.

Mayor Spruill said the decision won’t be taken lightly but hopes the board can come to an agreement on the issue.

“It’s not a simple thing. It’s a much more complex issue than one might think,” Mayor Spruill added.

The policy will be discussed at the next board meeting and leaders hope to have a decision ready at that time.

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