Roadway project election Tuesday

TUPELO – City voters on Tuesday will decide the fate of the Major Thoroughfare Program.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for registered Tupelo voters at city voting precinct locations.
On the ballot will be two questions: Are you for continuing the 10 mill special levy of ad valorum tax for street improvements? Or are you against it?
As of Friday morning, 54 absentee ballots had been filed at City Hall, said City Clerk Kim Hanna. Absentee voting ended Saturday.
Tuesday’s election is the fifth in the Major Thoroughfare Program’s 20-year history. The first one launched the program; all subsequent ones continued it for an additional five years. It has passed each time.
MTP Oversight Committee members hope it passes again.
“We feel very strongly this is a good program,” said MTP Chairman Greg Pirkle at the hearing. “It is necessary for the continued growth of Tupelo.”
If the vote passes, city property taxes will not increase. They’ll remain at 32.47 mills – about a third of which funds the large-scale street improvements commissioned by the MTP.
Proposed improvements for the upcoming phase include widening portions of Eason and Veterans boulevards, East Main, South Gloster, South Thomas and West Jackson streets, as well as adding right-hand turn lanes to North Gloster Street near The Mall at Barnes Crossing.
“We reviewed traffic counts, interviewed city officials, CDF officials, local citizens and business owners, looked at growth projections in the city and even looked at where the potential developments will be,” said Major Thoroughfare Committee member Chuck Imbler Jr.
Imbler heads the Phase 5 subcommittee, whose members spent months studying the city’s traffic needs and culling through a list of possible improvements to arrive at the final recommendations.
Projects will cost in excess of $23 million and take five years to complete. The taxes generate about $4 million a year, and MTP members typically raise additional funds through state and federal sources to help cover extra costs.
If the vote fails, the program will end, the proposed road projects will get shelved, and taxes will decrease to 22.47 mills.

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal