City budget draft calls for no tax hike

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The city will spend less money with potentially fewer employees and no tax hike despite annexing thousands of new residents and building an $11 million aquatic facility, according to an FY13 general fund budget proposed Tuesday by Mayor Jack Reed Jr.
Reed presented the draft budget to City Council members during the first of a scheduled series of meetings to discuss upcoming finances.
It’s not an official spending plan, Reed said, just a first glance at the figures that Tupelo’s financial experts and department heads came up with during the summer.
The city will generate an estimated $31.9 million in revenues during the coming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, according to the draft budget. That’s nearly 4.1 percent less than the current fiscal year budget, in part because Reed presented conservative numbers.
A majority of Tupelo’s revenues come from sales tax, which Reed projected to grow by 3 percent next year. It grew by more than 6 percent so far this year.
“I don’t want this to come across that I’m in any way predicting a dip in Tupelo’s sales,amp” Reed said. amp”Last year we had assumed a 1 percent increase. I think 3 percent is a good, conservative number.amp”
The budget also projects no increase in city personnel costs and no employee raises. Attrition will be used to trim non-essential staff throughout the year, Reed said.
Individual department budget projections remained mostly flat.
Reed said he won’t ask for a tax increase. Property owners currently pay a 32.47 mill tax. Almost a third of it is a voter-approved levy for the Major Thoroughfare Program.
The general fund budget doesn’t include capital project costs like the aquatic center, whose funding will come from bonds. Nor does it include the majority of costs related to the annexation of some 16 square miles this year.
It’ll cost an estimated $12.7 million to expand city sewer services to the annexed areas and $6.7 million for water services. Those funds will come from Tupelo Water amp& Light, which maintains a separate budget from the city’s general fund.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com