Tupelo council eyes big agenda

CATEGORY: ALD Tupelo City Council

AUTHOR: MOULDE

Tupelo council eyes big agenda

By Philip Moulden

Daily Journal

Tupelo City Council members were looking at a heavy agenda tonight, including proposals to boost police and fire retirement benefits, to roll back fees for some sewer hookups, to reduce next year’s tax rate, and to purchase land for a new fire station in the Belden area.

The council session is set for 6 p.m. at its chambers in the City Hall Annex on Court Street.

City officials have been studying methods to raise benefits for police and firefighters who retired under the old disability and relief fund. The fund lacked a cost-of-living provision and benefits can be sapped through years of inflation.

“What we’re basically proposing here is to review it on an annual basis and provide a percentage increase,” Mayor Jack Marshall said Monday.

Some council members, acting on requests by residents annexed into the city in 1989, want to roll back sewer hookup fees for annexed areas that didn’t have sewer available at the time. The hookup fee was $200 then, but was increased by the council to $475 in early 1994.

Rollback proponents contend that homes existing when annexation occurred should be charged no more than it would have cost if sewer had been available immediately. But opponents argue that the higher fee reflects the actual cost of the hookup now and is not unreasonable. The council recently agreed to let residents spread the cost over 12 months through water and light bills.

In another move linked to 1989 annexation, the city is proposing to buy land on McCullough Boulevard west of Coley Road for a new fire station. The station, to be Station No. 7, was proposed during annexation planning to basically serve the Belden area.

Ward 2 Councilman Sims Reeves has asked the council to lock in a rollback of the 1996 tax rate to offset an increase in property valuations made for the 1995 tax year. But under state law, it is questionable what effect a yes vote would have.

Cities fund budgets each September by applying a tax (millage) rate to assessed values determined in the summer. Until budgets and assessed values are determined, it would be virtually impossible to determine how much the tax rate could be cut, opponents contend.

Other agenda items include:

– Proposed refunding of water bonds used to fund the North Mississippi Water Supply District system, which serves Tupelo and area industrial parks. The plan could save ratepayers $3.5 million or more over the 14 years remaining on the bonds, officials say.

– A proposed resolution asking the Legislature to boost tax credits for businesses paying inventory taxes. Marshall said the measure needs “to be studied carefully” to determine its impact on other tax revenues.

– A proposal to require Tupelo Flea Market vendors to purchase some kind of business permit. It wasn’t clear how much money the proposal would raise or how it would be enforced.

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