Tupelo council passes $37.1M budget, supports in-house attorney

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By Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo’s City Council delivered Mayor Jason Shelton a victory in his first budget presented, approving by a supermajority a $37.1 million document that doesn’t raise taxes but creates an in-house attorney position, a first for the city in recent memory.

Council members swayed between talk of decreasing personnel costs to supporting the new mayor’s vision for the city during today’s special meeting to pass the 2014 fiscal year budget that begins on Oct. 1.

Having modeled the budget presented after the current year’s budget, Shelton’s major policy change in the document involved creating a city legal department. The current law firm handling the Tupelo’s legal services is Mitchell McNutt & Sams, which has contracted with the city for 36 of the last 40 years.

Shelton said he wasn’t aware of the city ever hiring an in-house attorney until now.

“If I didn’t firmly believe it would work, I wouldn’t have advocated for it,” the mayor said after the Council passed the budget.

The City Council passed the budget by a 5-2 margin. Councilmen Markel Whittington of Ward 1 and Mike Bryan of Ward 6 voted against it.

As recently as late last week, four councilmen appeared likely to vote against the budget. However, one of them, Buddy Palmer of Ward 5, brokered a compromise that led the City Council to pass Shelton’s only major request in the budget.

For more information on this story, read Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Journal.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com