TUPELO • Mayor Jason Shelton’s administration is in the early stages of asking the Tupelo City Council to approve $10 million in bonded debt for new infrastructure projects.
On Wednesday, the City Council convened with the administration and nearly all department heads at the BancorpSouth Arena Conference Center to deliberate on these future projects.
The administration presented a draft list of potential projects to be funded. The list was compiled with input from council members but could continue to change.
“I want to stress that what you have in front of you is not the final product,” Shelton told city officials. “This meeting today is to work through those (projects) to gauge support and balance needs versus wants and go through the ability to fund those. One of our greatest strengths as a city is the finances of the city of Tupelo.”
A capital plan is a list of long-term or bigger-ticket investment projects that the city wants to allocate money toward, such as constructing new city buildings or purchasing a new vehicle.
As it currently stands, some of the larger items within the proposed list that was discussed last week are as follows: $1.2 million in renovations to the Bel Air Center; $1.5 million allocated for infrastructure construction to the Fairpark district; and $1 million going toward street repairs and overlay construction work.
Don Lewis, the city’s chief operations officer, told the Daily Journal on Friday that the $10 million figure is more than what might ultimately be spent.
“The intent is one thing. What we actually issue could be less than that,” Lewis said. “You don’t want to pin yourself down, and then all of a sudden you get a good project or a good opportunity comes forward and you need the funding, but you have go back through the intent again or issue new bonds.”
The discussion for the upcoming bonded capital plan comes after the city council voted in September to approve approximately $3 million out of the city’s general fund for capital projects.
“If we’re going to spend a large amount of money on an outdoor pool next to where we have an indoor pool, let’s look at other things that we need in all of our wards,” Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings said about a plan to construct an outdoor pool. “I might have projects that I want to see in my ward, but I want the administration to see if they have anything in the works in my ward, too.”
Since budget talks last September, Shelton’s administration invited the different council members to submit a list of proposed projects they would like to see completed in their individual wards.
Lewis told the council members their requested projects would be assigned a project numbered and entered into a system where other city employees would monitor their requested projects and give periodic updates on them.
The estimated number of expenditures the city plans to spend has increased by approximately $750,000 from the previous estimates. According to the proposed plan the administration released during budget sessions in September, the total cost of capital project expenditures is $7.5 million. Now, the administration is proposing allocating around $8.3 million in bonded capital expenses.
Kim Hanna, the city’s chief financial officer, stressed to the Daily Journal that the proposed $10 million in bonded debt is flexible. She praised how the plan is coming together, with cooperative and candid conversations.
“Nobody works in a bubble,” Hanna said. “Don (Lewis) has done a fantastic job of coordinating this. We are always very, very flexible, but the plan still gives us an idea of the future.”
Lewis said the administration will continue to work with the council and “fine tune” the capital plan. Then, the administration will have a work session with the council members again to discuss the bonded capital project list before holding a final vote on the project list around the first of January.