Smaller road projects out of Phase 5

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – When the Major Thoroughfare Program comes up for renewal May 3, it won’t include any money for unspecified city projects.
Those funds, initially set at $5 million, were stricken from the five-year plan Monday as Major Thoroughfare Committee members returned to their original mission of large-scale road improvements.
The group voted on an updated list of project priorities that included the widening of several major arteries and the addition of right-hand turn lanes on North Gloster Street near the mall.
It also included the South Gloster Street widening project, which originally was to be completed in the program’s current five-year phase. But cost overruns elsewhere bumped South Gloster into Phase 5.
The MTP is a taxpayer-funded initiative that Tupelo residents vote on every five years. Now in its fourth phase, it has widened and improved several large streets citywide, including West Main and North Gloster.
Funding comes from a 10-mill property tax that currently generates about $4 million annually.
The group initially had set aside 2.5 mills from its next phase to pay for smaller projects requested by the city. But misunderstandings immediately surfaced as to how that money could be spent.
Then Mayor Jack Reed Jr. suggested that the MTP relinquish half its funding to help the city fund a neighborhood revitalization plan. It was met with stiff opposition by the MTP committee, as well as some City Council members.
Ultimately, the MTP committee removed the original 2.5 mills to avoid any confusion.
Residents will be able to comment on the plan during a March 22 hearing during the City Council meeting at City Hall. The meeting starts at 6 p.m.
A May 3 special election has been set for residents to vote.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.