Tupelo tax revenue surplus to cover shortfalls

By Emily LeCoz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Surplus tax revenues will cover more than a half-million dollars in unforeseen costs and other budget shortfalls in the city’s current fiscal year plan.
The City Council on Tuesday added to its general fund budget $550,000 of the approximately $750,000 it has received in surplus sales tax collections so far this fiscal year.
Overall, the city has earned more than $8.8 million in tax collections since Oct. 1.
About one-third of money added to the budget will cover an unanticipated shortfall in municipal court fine fees as well as decreased income on a depository bid.
The rest will pay for a host of new expenses. Among them: higher utility costs, higher state retirement fund fees and an increase of Tupelo’s allocation to Lee County E911.
All municipalities in Lee County, as well as North Mississippi Medical Center and the county itself, voted to increase their annual contributions to the emergency dispatch service by a combined 60 percent.
Tupelo’s portion increased by more than $48,000 – an adjustment made this week in its current fiscal year budget. An additional $48,000 will cover the retirement fund hikes through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.
The Legislature approved a 1.3 percent increase to the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi, which goes into effect this summer.
And more than $217,000 was added for higher energy costs due to a rate hike set by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
“Right after the October budget was approved, we had a 2.6 percent increase in power usage,” said Tupelo Water amp& Light Manager Johnny Timmons. “When you add everything up, it’s a chunk of change.”
City Clerk Kim Hanna told council members Tuesday that, despite the tight budget, Tupelo had enough funds to cover all expenses and that the additional sales tax revenues helped absorb unexpected costs.
This was the fourth budget revision so far this fiscal year.
“This is a conservative estimate as we finish out the year,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr. “I’ll certainly be disappointed if we don’t continue to have sales tax increases. We’ve had eight straight months of it.”
The city this summer will begin piecing together its FY13 budget, which council members are expected to review and adjust in August. It must be voted on by Sept. 15 to go into effect Oct. 1.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com