TUPELO • City officials are upgrading its streetlights by replacing old bulbs with new LED bulbs in an effort to have brighter lights during the night.
The Tupelo City Council voted for the change at its latest board meeting where members also voted to increase the street light investment charge from 12% to 15%. The change in the investment charge would lead to an increase in the amount of money the city pays for utility upkeep and maintenance. This would come out of the city’s public works budget.
Johnny Timmons, the director of Tupelo Water and Light, said the utility department had been looking to switch to LED lights for a long time, but they were too costly for a longer period of time. Now, he says LED bulbs are more affordable.
Despite the increased investment charge, Timmons said the decreased cost of operating the LED lights would offset the increase because his department wouldn’t have to replace the bulbs as often as the old ones. He also said the increased percentage change was long overdue.
“What Tupelo Water and Light charges is just to break even,” he said. “The facilities charge is for maintenance and repairs cost. That charge is to the city, and nothing is passed on to the customers.”
This amount the city pays for maintenance will not be billed to consumers, but this would be an increased percentage the city pays out of its general fund.
Kim Hanna, the city’s chief financial officer, said the decision to increase the utility percentage was based off of a recommendation from the T.V.A.
“When we had discussions with T.V.A. about switching to LED lights, they told us it was time to change the investment charge anway,” Hannah said. What (the city) was paying was not enough. Even if we didn’t go with the LED bulbs, we still would have needed to
Ward Four Councilwoman Nettie Davis praised the change in the lighting system and said the better light emitted by the new lights would allow senior citizens to see better at night. Ward Five Councilman Buddy Palmer said he thought the switch was a smart move considering the it would lead to a decrease in utility costs over time.
Timmons told the Daily Journal he would begin installing LED bulbs on the major thoroughfares first once the bulbs arrive to the city after ordering them. Then, he would install the new lights to secondary roads and in subdivisions.