Tupelo CFO Norris avoids spotlight, but gets accolades

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NORRIS

NORRIS

By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo’s current and former mayor, chief financial officers and an assortment of local government professionals across the state agree that Tupelo’s financial team may be the best in the state.

Tupelo Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris, a behind-the-scenes type who avoids the public spotlight, is admired and appreciated by dozens of local government professionals throughout the state and even beyond.

He has been the major force behind Tupelo’s successful effort to get overtime spending under control, among other accomplishments.

Soft-spoken Norris shies away from sharing too much about himself to others, often limiting his bio to “just a country boy.” If pressed, he’ll reveal he’s from Nettleton. Pressed further, he’ll open up that he’s from south Nettleton.

He never mentions that he’s a financial guru who has advised local government leaders throughout the state on complicated matters related to issuing bonds.

A certified public accountant, Norris worked as Tupelo’s city clerk and chief financial officer from 1985-1998 but then left to enter the world of financial consulting for local governments.

His consulting role included financial analysis for city and county governments to determine their ability to issue bonds for capital improvements. He also advised governments on the best way to structure debt service payments to minimize tax and utility rates for citizens.

Connie Everett, CFO for the city of Hattiesburg, met Norris as a consultant in 2007 related to bond issues in the Hub City. Everett said she has relied on his advice for many of Hattiesburg’s bond closings.

“He likes to crunch numbers and do the spreadsheet work,” Everett said. “He really prefers the background work.”

Randy Kelley, executive director for Three Rivers Planning and Development District, also worked with Norris through his consulting role. Kelley described Norris’ high standards of professionalism and years of experience and expertise as city clerk, CFO and assisting local governments with aspects of bond projects as key distinctions between Tupelo’s CFO and other local government experts.

“The city is lucky to have him,” Kelley said.

Former Mayor Jack Reed Jr. and current Mayor Jason Shelton both say Tupelo has the best financial team in the state.

City Clerk Kim Hanna, hired by Norris 19 years ago, has a master’s degree in accounting and began working for Tupelo government as deputy city clerk and controller, following a promotion as assistant finance director and then interim-city clerk and CFO.

New to municipal government, Shelton said he learned quickly during this year’s budget process how lucky Tupelo taxpayers are to have Norris and Hanna watching over public money.

“We’ve got the best financial team in the state,” Shelton said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com