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Put out the fire with the facts, please

When something catches fire, the normal reaction is simple: call the fire department.

Natchez-Adams County’s current public “fire” requires something far less conventional, however.

The smoldering issue of whether or not Adams County pays the City of Natchez enough for county fire protection doesn’t need more hot air. Instead, cold, hard facts are required and up to this point missing from most discussions.

The issue flares up nearly every city-county budget season. Everyone gets hot under the collar, and in the end nothing is gained.

Natchez-Adams County residents deserve better than more stagnation and separation in government.

Citizens want and expect their representatives to work on their behalf based on facts.

County supervisors and city aldermen should follow taxpayers’ wishes and seek unbiased facts, on which any further discussions can be based. This isn’t rocket science.

Simply create a non-political, citizens’ committee to study the issue, create a simple, factual report and present it to both sides.

Someone not involved up to this point should lead such a committee and all its members should, likewise be as unconnected as possible. The leader should be someone who can wade through the numbers and be trusted.

A local, mutually agreed upon CPA should do nicely. It’s fine for the committee to involve the Natchez fire chief or Adams County fire coordinator, when pertinent to obtain information, but neither should be involved as the potential, long-term outcome could affect their judgments.

At the end of the day whether or not the city and county opt to stay married to one another over fire protection or get a divorce is less relevant than simply knowing any decisions are based on facts, not political fiction.