Tupelo City Council reviews plans for capital budget

tupelocityhallslideBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – City Council members discussed Thursday particulars in the city’s $6.7 million capital budget plan for the next three years, along with a few things left off the list.
Council members questioned Parks and Recreation Director Don Lewis about plans for particular city parks. Aside from $300,000 set aside for a splash park in Fiscal Year 2015, the department included few insights for major changes to parks in the city.

Later this year, the city will likely demolish the swimming pool at Rob Leake City Park when the $12 million aquatic center opens at Veterans Park.

Councilman Lynn Bryan of Ward 2, who represents the Joyner neighborhood that includes City Park, said he’d like to consider building the splash pad sooner than in 2015.

“One of the most used parks in the city will be empty besides some tennis courts,” he said.

The submitted capital budget, meant for items that will last the city for a decade or longer, includes projects from the fire, police public works and parks and recreation departments. The plan can be changed from year to year but gives city leaders an opportunity to plan for the future when multiple departments request major purchases.

Mayor Jason Shelton has said some purchases may be put off if the city doesn’t have money to pay for them without taking on new debt.

Lewis said master plans for City Park and Theron Nichols Park in southwest Tupelo will soon go before the city for consideration, likely after the budget is passed.

Funding projects in the master plans for the parks would come from sources beyond the 2014 fiscal year budget, which the city will approve before Sept. 15.

“I’m going to present a plan,” Lewis said. “It’ll be up to the council to decide how to fund it.”

Not included in the capital budget is funding for a new police headquarters. The city received land in June on Franklin Street expected to be the site for the new police headquarters.

When Shelton and City Council members meet on Sept. 7 to set goals for the next four years, they’ll likely add ideas for the capital budget.

The City Council likely will meet at least once more to discuss the budget before approving it the week of Sept. 9.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com