Tupelo OKs rainy day funds for Major Thoroughfare

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – City leaders approved a plan Tuesday allowing the Major Thoroughfare Program to borrow rainy day funds if its road-work costs exceed money in the bank.

The City Council voted 6-1 on the plan, which has been the subject of debate among members during the course of the past two weeks.

Some, including Ward 3 Councilman Jim Newell, had argued it was an abuse of Tupelo’s cash reserves; others, like Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington, said it’d save taxpayers money in the long run by not postponing needed road work.

Newell was the lone dissenter.

It opens the city’s reserve fund balance to the Major Thoroughfare Program Committee to cover potential shortfalls in the coming years. The committee has several ongoing road projects, as well as some upcoming projects, that could drain its bank account if bills come in at the same time.

Committee Chairman Greg Pirkle said it’s possible the committee won’t need any rainy day money. But it could need as much as about $4.3 million.

All borrowed funds will be paid back as the committee collects its annual allocation from a 10-mill property tax set aside for its use. The tax generates about $4 million per year.

Tupelo’s Chief Financial Officer Lynn Norris gave his approval for the plan.

Among the affected road-improvement projects are the widening of South Gloster Street, the widening of East Main Street and the construction of a bridge over the Natchez Trace Parkway.

emily.lecoz@journalinc.com