OUR OPINION: Tupelo open house greets new citizens

By NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo city officials will personally greet newly annexed residents today from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall in Fairpark – an open house for information, questions, answers and discussions about virtually everything in which city government has a role.
The open house is an exceptional opportunity to get information directly from the city’s service providers as well as meet – periodically during the day – members of the City Council, Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., and department heads accompanied by employee representatives.
City spokeswoman Annabeth Wyatt said representatives from the Convention and Visitors Bureau, BancorpSouth Arena and the Lee County Library also will be available with information about programs, events and services.
The annexation, which took effect Sept. 2, brought 16 square miles and about 1,245 households into the city from unincorporated land formerly wholly under Lee County’s governing umbrella.
Wyatt said the Tupelo Police Department will provide security for the day-long event and answer law enforcement questions.
Many residents may want to talk about the city property taxes they will pay for the first time. The additional layer of taxation was one of the points of opposition from some county residents, but additional city services come with annexation – services beyond what the county provided and more frequent.
Ward lines will be displayed on maps so that new residents will know who represents them on the City Council, and where they would vote in municipal elections, which run separate from the county and state cycles, and with different voting precinct locations in some cases.
All new residents, as previously reported in the Daily Journal, benefit immediately from Tupelo police, fire and code protection, as well as brush removal, right-of-way maintenance and animal control services from the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society.
Twice-weekly garbage pick-up begins Oct. 1, and officials from Waste Management, the contract hauler, will be available for information.
Water and sewer service to the annexed areas that don’t already have them will take longer, perhaps a year or more.
The open house also offers information about the codes applying to all new residents: no free-roaming pets, no brush fires, no junk vehicles in yards, and others.
“We recognize this as a responsibility and an opportunity,” said Mayor Jack Reed Jr. “And we will do our very best to make sure our newest citizens realize the value in becoming a citizen of Tupelo.”
The new residents also have the right to address the City Council under the established procedures guiding the meetings, which are open and posted in advance.