CATEGORY: EDT Editorials
The Marshall administration’s plan for a new major street construction program in Tupelo slowed Monday afternoon at the intersection where citizens’ questions met the inability of government employees to adequately, immediately answer them.
Members of Mayor Jack Marshall’s consolidated Major Thoroughfare Program committee brought questions and opinions to Monday’s session. The answers and responses offered by the city administration led to a healthy discussion of traffic-flow priorities and the best use of the proposed extension of a 10-mill property tax to pay for additional major street improvements. A mill is equal to 1/1000 of a dollar. One mill produces $1 in tax revenue for each $1,000 of assessed valuation.
The first Major Thoroughfare Program, approved by city voters in 1991, provided both bond money and tax revenue for traffic flow work. Most of those projects have been completed or have been started. Improvements are obvious where work has been completed like the widening of portions of South Gloster and North Gloster to five lanes.
It’s also obvious to both Tupelo residents and others who drive regularly in the city that big problems remain. The committee formed to recommend a second Major Thoroughfare Program was charged with deciding the priorities. Monday’s meeting showed that members of the committee take seriously their responsibility and want full, factual and clearly presented information on which to base decisions. That attitude reflects a business-like approach to the expenditure of millions of public dollars.
It would be hard to find a member of the mayor’s committee opposed to a second phase of the thoroughfare program. Those questions asked Monday of the city administration and its consultants aren’t hard to answer. They may take more time to calculate, but they can be answered. No project of the magnitude proposed for Phase II should begin without them. The absence of detailed, thoroughly documented information, in fact, would weaken chances for passage if the proposal is approved by the City Council for a referendum.
Tupelo voters/taxpayers bought the 1991 proposal based on documented need and facts. The same kinds of information are needed this year to persuade voters to extend the tax that’s already in place. Complete information could help the committee reach some of the needed conclusions at its next meeting in mid-April.