CATEGORY: EDT Editorials
Tupelo’s City Council could act tonight on the unanimous recommendation of a special task force to build a $9 million City Hall complex on a site in downtown Tupelo.
The task force, chaired by retail executive and civic leader Jack Reed, worked thoroughly and effectively for the better part of two years studying the city’s currently occupied offices and the potential advantages of a new City Hall. Members of the task force, comprised of a strong cross-section of citizens, inspected every office and property parcel owned or used by the city.
The task force’s conclusion, without reservation, was that Tupelo needs a new City Hall. The task force found that most of the city’s offices (excluding the maintenance departments for the Public Services and Water & Light departments) could be housed in one complex. City prisoners, as previously agreed, will be housed in the new Lee County Jail, under construction on a site near the county’s Justice Center and near the proposed City Hall complex. The new structure would eliminate the scattered and physically disconnected operations of municipal government. The efficiencies would come in internal operations and the accessibility of city offices for citizens/taxpayers.
Task force members, working with the city’s Finance Department, also presented a plan for payment that would not require a tax increase. The projected $9 million cost, including buying property not already owned by the city, could be paid with sales tax revenues financing a general obligation bond issue, a combination of general obligation bonds and cash reserves, or through a lease/purchase contract. The Finance Department’s report favors the general obligation bond issue. The report includes an important, bold-faced caution:
“It is extremely important to understand there must be a commitment from the leadership of the city to live within the projected budgets of the city for the next five years if the goals of this project are to be met. Namely, these goals are to build a new City Hall without imposing a tax increase on our citizens and not to jeopardize the city’s financial stability.”
Tupelo’s government long ago outgrew the small, modest building on North Broadway that has been City Hall for decades. A new City Hall is serious business and a weighty commitment. In Tupelo’s case, the citizen task force made the case for a major investment of public resources with study and facts. It presented a plan that should serve the city’s citizens for many years.
The weight of evidence favors adoption of the task force’s recommendation to build a new City Hall.