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Supervisors discuss county issues at forum

NATCHEZ — Adams County Supervisors Vice President Mike Lazarus said Friday if Natchez Regional Medical Center wins its $42 million lawsuit against its former management company, he wants to see the hospital pay off all of its debt.

“The hospital has already filed bankruptcy,” Lazarus said. “If that debt fails, then that route can’t be done.”

NRMC’s lawsuit against its former management company, Quorum, is scheduled to head to court at the end of the month. The hospital has alleged that Quorum’s management of the facility was the reason NRMC had to file bankruptcy.

Lazarus made his comments at the weekly Friday Forum hosted by the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and Alcorn State University. Along with Supervisors President Darryl Grennell and County Information Technology Director Lance Bishop, Lazarus spoke to those in attendance about various projects in which the county is involved.

Lazarus also said he wants the county to make a more concerted effort to collect personal property taxes on trailers, and — if the trailer owners do not pay the taxes — auction the trailers to collect the money owed the county, something he said other counties are already doing.

“I don’t want for us to raise taxes if we aren’t collecting every nickel that we are owed,” Lazarus said.

Grennell said that, while the county government is still interested in a unified, county-wide recreation program, the supervisors have chosen to focus on economic development at this time.

“In the past, we looked at the possibility of the county doing a bond issue to underwrite the recreation program, but since then we have gotten involved in new economic endeavors,” Grennell said.

“The county has to provide infrastructure for those new endeavors, and we are limited on how much we can borrow. (Economic development) is the priority for us.”

Recreation should not be thought of as being put on a back burner, Grennell said, and county officials are still planning to sit down at the table with city officials to discuss recreation further.

Grennell also spoke about the city and county governments’ agreement earlier this year to work toward a more unified fire protection plan.

“We are to have a series of meetings this year to work on the future of fire protection in our community,” Grennell said.

“We already have volunteer fire stations in the county. We would like to get to a level where we have paid firefighters at those stations.”

Grennell said the county is also looking for locations for additional stations.

When Bishop spoke, he told of working with the county’s aging information infrastructure since he started last month.

“The good news is that the county has not spent much money on technology in the last few years, but the bad news is that the county has not spent any money on technology in the last few years,” he said.

In addition to getting existing systems up to speed, Bishop said he has been tasked with finding ways for county residents to be able to pay their taxes and other county-based bills online.

“I am looking at the possibility of putting a kiosk in the courthouse for people to pay their taxes or bills,” Bishop said. “You would type in your information and swipe your card without standing in line.”

Creating such a kiosk would be fairly simple and inexpensive to do, he said.