CATEGORY: ALD Tupelo City Council
COUNCIL JOINS OVERSIGHT GROUP
By Philip Moulden
The Tupelo City Council Tuesday agreed to join a state oversight group formed to help cities avoid costly errors or omissions under a new federal communications law.
By an 8-1 vote, the city became one of about 35 members of the Mississippi Municipal Association's Telecommunications Consortium, organized to share costs in developing strategies for complying with the new law. The law unleashes telephone companies, cable television companies and other communications firms to offer wide ranges of services.
Officials are concerned that the city could lose controls on public rights-of-way, zoning, taxing authority, and cable rate regulations if its response to the law is flawed.
"It could mean substantial funds for the city," Planning Department Director Fred Rogers told the council. "We're talking about a new law that we really don't know the ramifications of. It could mean thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars to the city."
The state group will employ a coordinator and acquire other services as needed to form a work plan. While the MMA's general attorney will handle primary legal services, the group also plans to retain legal services in Washington, D.C.
Services to be provided under the agreement include developing criteria for cable television franchise regulation, evaluation of cable TV service, and assuring compliance with Federal Communications Commission regulations.
Initial cost to the city is $6,137 a year. The city can withdraw from the consortium on 60 days notice.
In other action, the council clarified the downtown parking ordinance enforcement area and reverted to its previous policy for paying city workers who perform jury duty.
Under the parking ordinance, most midtown on-street parking will maintain a two-hour limit unless otherwise posted.
Administration officials assured council members that enforcement would be even-handed throughout the zone, including ticketing private vehicles parked in alleys.
"We do not selectively write tickets ... our officers do not do that," Chief Operations Officer Joe Benefield said.
A move to limit full pay for employees on jury duty to one time in a two-year period was rejected after city attorney Guy Mitchell said it conflicted with state statutes.
Ward 5 Councilman Tommy Doty, who made the proposal in June, alleged that some city workers were using jury duty to shirk their city duties.
The law permits excuse from jury duty if someone has served within two years, but that relief applies only to the particular court involved, Mitchell said.
"However, you cannot use service in Circuit Court to avoid service in County Court for instance," Mitchell noted. And service in any state court would not be an excuse to avoid federal court duty.
The council finally elected to revert to its old policy, which grants an employee up to three weeks pay for jury duty within any two-year period.
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.