Tupelo leaders discuss visions, to set specific goals later

Tupelo StockBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Tupelo elected leaders discussed their visions for the city but ran out of time before setting specific goals during the final day of a city retreat.

They’ll complete the process Sept. 7.

An ambitious schedule Thursday listening to 22 different presentations from city departments and partner organizations spilled over into Friday morning, leaving less time for city leaders to focus on goal-setting. And then the city leaders strayed in conversations, leaving limited time to finish the goal-setting exercise.

“If we do it in an hour, it’s going to be a waste of time,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington.

City Council members and Mayor Jason Shelton plan to complete the goal-setting session on Sept. 7.

Staff from Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government facilitated the goal-setting part of the retreat, and institute director Marty Wiseman discussed different forms of municipal government in the state.

Phil Hardwick, coordinator of capacity development at the Stennis Institute, said setting goals isn’t something that should be rushed since the result is intended to help guide the city for the next four years.

While city leaders didn’t complete the goal-setting process, Shelton and council members did discuss their thoughts on the city now and their vision for the city after this four-year term in office ends. Generally, the group discussed the need for improvements in city government related to neighborhood revitalization, the city’s image, customer service, financial stewardship, fulfilling promises to annexed areas and infrastructure.

Each council member and Shelton gave multiple responses to finishing the question “I’ll be proud of Tupelo in four years if …”

“I’ll be proud of Tupelo in four years if the Jackson Street redevelopment project has matured, we have another neighborhood in redevelopment and a third neighborhood is identified for redevelopment,” said Ward 2 Councilman Lynn Bryan.

While council members discussed during the retreat visions for their four-year term in office, others said they wanted to look at immediate actions. Councilmen Jim Newell of Ward 3 and Willie Jennings of Ward 7 said they believed the city should strongly consider adding additional code enforcement officers in the budget the council will approve in the coming weeks.

“We can do some things right now that won’t cost a whole lot of money,” Jennings said.

robbie.ward@journalinc.com