By NEMS Daily Journal
Tupelo’s City Council continues its long, methodical and transparent process of shaping the 2013 budget today at a 3:15 p.m. work session in City Hall’s council chambers.
The work session is open, but it is not a public hearing, and only officials participate. A public hearing has been held, but individuals may make special requests in advance to speak in the appropriate part of City Council regular meetings.
Council members and Mayor Jack Reed Jr. will continue working toward a final draft that can be approved by the Sept. 15 deadline set in state law. The new budget year begins Oct. 1, and should not be confused with the state’s fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year.
Today’s session begins with the background of encouraging news that planning so far indicates no need for a property tax increase. Tupelo, in the 2013 budget year, will have fewer employees, additional new residents via annexation, capital spending projections that can be handled without increasing taxes, and projected annexation costs within revenue forecasts, mostly from the Water amp& Light Department, which has a separate budget from the city.
Tupelo’s fiscal practice can only be described as conservative. The city’s basic ad valorem millage is 22.47 mills, plus 10 mills self-imposed by voters for the Major Thoroughfare Program.
In addition, Tupelo’s sales tax collections have rebounded from a recession slump, and Reed has projected a realistic 3 percent growth in 2013. Sales tax collections have risen 6 percent during the 2012 budget year, but Reed’s 3 percent projection in growth is more cautious and probably more realistic than committing to another 6 percent year.
We agree with requesting additional support from the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s revenue stream for line items specifically related to economic growth and development – and at least partially dependent on tourism for full success. The tourism tax, 2 percent on consumer sending in Tupelo’s hospitality industry, is generating about $3.4 million per year.
While the CVB cannot be compelled to spend funds on items outside its bureau budget, commitments like the approved new aquatic center certainly developed in part from CVB backing.
Another budget work session has been set for 3:30 p.m. Aug. 23, also in council chambers.
Millage to support the Tupelo Public Schools is set by the schools’ board of trustees, which has fiscal autonomy. The taxes are collected through the Lee County Tax Collector’s office.
Tupelo residents and taxpayers can send emails to the City Council at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will forward them to the council members.