By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Property owners might want to spruce up before the city’s summer-long code enforcement blitz.
Starting this month, the Tupelo Development Services Department will assign most of its staff with code enforcement duties and dispatch them throughout the city. They’ll target every residential and commercial property and write citations for each infraction, said department Director BJ Teal.
In all, 16 people will be on the job – up from the typical two or three.
“It’s a short-term burst to get people’s attention, and then we will continue with very proactive, aggressive code enforcement,” Teal said. “We’d just ask that people maintain their properties.”
It will take an estimated three months to hit every property. After that, the employees will resume their regular duties.
Inspectors will focus only on what’s visible from the street; they won’t enter properties unless they receive a specific complaint or unless it’s part of the ongoing rental license program.
Property owners who cannot financially remedy their code infractions can request help from the city. Teal said Tupelo has funds through its SNAP grant program to help qualified people obtain money for various repairs.
But Teal said she anticipates a backlash from those unaccustomed to such a blitz.
“I am assured that the administration is really behind us,” Teal said, “and that’s the best way for it to be.”
“I think we’ve needed it for a long time,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington. “But we need something long term. I still think we could reassign people from other departments to do code enforcement long term, because it’s needed.”