Tupelo revitalization details revealed

TUPELO – A sweeping city revitalization proposal to stop middle-class decline can be implemented without any tax increase, according to findings from a month-long study presented today.
It will, however, require $15.7 million in public funds raised primarily through a bond issue. But for each dollar of public investment, three dollars in private funds will be spent to improve Tupelo.
The City Council heard findings from the study during an hour-long meeting at City Hall. About 50 people attended, including members of the volunteer committees tasked with investigating the four-part proposal.
It was first pitched last month by Mayor Jack Reed Jr. because recent census data confirmed a long-suspected trend of Tupelo’s middle-class decline.
“At this time in our community, we’re at the balance of a true tipping point,” said Mitch Waycaster, one of the presenters and the senior executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Renasant Bank.
“Doing nothing causes us to fall into a further degregated state, a state of losing citizens and homeowners and straining systems,” he said. “It could eventually cost the tax payers as sales and property tax revenues could continue to decline, causing a tax increase just to keep the level of service we’re accustomed to.”
The session began at 3 p.m. and lasted about an hour.
Details emergd on the following plans:
– Reinvesting in older neighborhoods through a series of efforts including the purchase and demolition of dilapidated homes for redevelopment.
– Offering low-interest, city-backed mortgage loans to entice families into purchasing homes in Tupelo.
– Offering college tuition guarantee plan, which would pay 65 to 100 percent of tuition to a four-year state university for Tupelo’s high school graduates.
– Beefing up code enforcement and restructure the city’s rental property licensing program.

Read the full story in Tuesday’s Daily Journal.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal