TUPELO • The Tupelo City Council has unanimously passed a $40 million general budget for its next fiscal year that injects more money into almost every city department.
During a special called meeting on Wednesday morning, each of the seven Council members approved a budget that contains no tax increases and currently provides no raise to city employees.
“I can see that the city is headed in the right direction and that we’re addressing the needs of the city,” Ward 6 Councilwoman Janet Gaston.
By state law, a municipal budget operates from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, and municipalities must adopt a budget for its next fiscal year by Sept. 15. The overwhelming majority of the city’s revenue comes from sales taxes. The other major revenue streams include property taxes, fines and permit fees.
As previously reported by the Daily Journal, the Development Services Department and the Human Resources Department received the largest increases by percentage to their budgets over the previous fiscal year.
Development Services will see an increase to its budget of around 12% over last year’s fiscal budget. The total amount requested for Development Services this year is around $1.5 million.
Tanner Newman, the director of Development Services, previously said the increase will allow for more flexibility in travel expenses for employees who are seeking proper certification in different inspection areas.
The budget of the Human Resources Department is up by 64% from last year. The reason: The city’s HR department could potentially double in employees over the next fiscal year.
The city’s payroll services previously fell under the city’s finance department. Now, payroll is being shifted to human resources.
To make up for that, some of the employees in finance have been transferred to the HR Department, resulting in the increase.
The budget does not include raises for city employees because city officials believe there could be other expenses tacked on to the budget at a later date, primarily an increase for the city’s insurance.
Jordan said he and other city officials will re-evaluate the expenses after decisions about insurance have been made in December.
“We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to give a raise to city employees later,” Jordan said.
As usual, the departments with the largest budgets are the city's two municipal emergency response organizations: the Tupelo Police Department and the Tupelo Fire Department.
The fire department, which has a total proposed budget of $7.1 million, wants to hire additional firefighters to place on a ladder unit at one station to have a better fire rating. Home insurance rates are directly affected by the rating of the fire station covering it. If the city has a better fire rating, residents will pay lower home insurance rates.
The Police Department’s requested budget is around $11.5 million, which is roughly the same as it was last year. The overwhelming majority of the total budget’s expenditures are salaries for police officers and other department employees.
This is the first budget that the Jordan administration has successfully gotten passed by the City Council and the first-term mayor believes the public will see more route road infrastructure projects being conducted this year.
Mayor Todd Jordan told the Daily Journal that he largely tried to accommodate requests from city department leaders to increase their budgets. But since the department leaders are getting more money, Jordan said he wants them to provide more services.
“If you give more, you should expect more,” Jordan said.