Tupelo Council OKs budget

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – After an hour of last-minute negotiations, the City Council adopted its Fiscal Year 2012 budget at a special called meeting Tuesday.
It passed 6-1, with Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan the lone opponent.
The $32.6 million general fund budget will keep the municipality operating from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2012. It pays for salaries, supplies and services.
In addition to the budget, the council also adopted the first year of a five-year, $24.6 million capital project plan. It anticipates $5.5 million in expenditures for big-ticket items like a fire engine, neighborhood improvements and engineering on a proposed aquatic center.
Funding for capital projects will come mainly from bonds, which need council approval before their issuance.
“These projects are unfunded, they’re a wish list” said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, who hinted he might vote down bonding for some of the capital projects later.
Bryan said he opposed some of the capital projects on the list and wanted the plan removed from the city budget. When it couldn’t be removed, he voted against the entire FY12 spending plan.
Others defended the capital plan.
“This gives us a good road map,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington, who called it an important document for any business. “I applaud the mayor and his team for putting together a budget that’s balanced and also the department heads for cutting expenses.”
The budget includes a 3 percent raise for all full-time city employees. An additional 5 percent raise for the city’s human resources director was removed from the budget through an amendment prior to the vote.
It also includes $30,000 to continue a summer youth job program for at-risk teens.
“I’m glad we did it,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr. while leaving the meeting. “It was a lot of hard work.”
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com