Tupelo city job uncertain for ex-COO

Tupelo StockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton said he wants to keep the former chief operations officer working for the city, but the City Council hasn’t decided whether to fund a position for him.

A week after Shelton replaced Darrell Smith with Don Lewis as city COO, the City Council took no action Tuesday after meeting in closed session for discussions including “personnel related to the Major Thoroughfare Program.”

Shelton said last week that he would like Smith to fill the position of MTP project manager in the Public Works Department. Phillip Harbor retired from the job earlier this year. Shelton has said funding for the position was not included in the current city budget and needs council approve to add funding for it.

Shelton has said he would ask the council to fund Smith’s new job at $65,000 annually, which is $12,000 more than Habor made. Smith earned $81,955 as COO.

Shelton would not comment Tuesday about how the council has responded to his plan to hire Smith in the new position.

Smith was COO for nearly nine years and left the job last week. While not speaking directly about Smith, Shelton said an employee no longer in a position hired by the city could continue as an employee until his vacation time ended. He also pointed out that employees can be reassigned to positions currently funded in the general fund.

Shelton said he’s not completely comfortable with the council not taking immediate action related to funding the MTP position.

“I’m comfortable with it on a very limited basis,” he said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com