Tupelo City heads seek modest budget hikes

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Rising fuel and health care costs could trigger minor budget hikes across several city departments.
On the second day of Tupelo budget talks, City Council members Thursday heard from three department heads requesting 2-3 percent bumps from the current fiscal year allocation.
Directors of the Fire Department, Parks and Recreation Department and Municipal Court predicted relatively flat budgets, with the exception of those items.
Their appeals echoed the one made Monday by fellow colleague Sid Russell, who leads the Public Works Department. He wanted a 2.9 percent increase.
“Most of our departments are over on gas already this year,” said council President Fred Pitts after the meeting. “We’ll probably will have to do a budget amendment before the end of the fiscal year.”
Tupelo Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris has projected an average $3.80-per-gallon fuel cost in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Health care costs are harder to pin down right now, Pitts said. The city knows its fees will rise but won’t know the exact amount until later this month.
The city’s current fiscal year general fund budget is roughly $34 million. Of that, $5.5 million goes to the Fire Department, $3 million to the Parks and Recreation Department and $826,005 to Municipal Court.
Tupelo also will need a new fire truck the coming year, but that expense will be reflected in a capital fund budget, not the Fire Department’s budget.
The city has until Sept. 15 to adopt its FY12 budget. It will hear department presentations before setting the spending plan.
Another budget session is set for 3:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com