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Supervisors to discuss fire plan

NATCHEZ — The sometimes heated topic of county-wide fire protection may find a resolution next week.

Adams County Supervisor David Carter said the board of supervisors will meet Monday to discuss fire protection, and on the table for discussion will be a proposal for a long-term plan.

The proposal was crafted after several months of meeting between himself, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown, County Fire Coordinator Stan Owens, Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart and consultant Jay Fitch, Carter said.

“We have been working very closely with the city, and I think we have something that is in the best interest of the city and the county,” Carter said.

Currently, the county government pays the city government an annual assessment for the Natchez Fire Department to respond to fires outside the city limits.

When reviewing the 2013 proposal, the supervisors balked at a suggested rate increase, citing concerns about the NFD’s ability to respond to fires in rural parts of the county.

For several days in last fall, the supervisors considered forming an independent fire district in the county because the fire arrangement appeared poised to expire with no agreement, but the county supervisors and the Natchez Board of Aldermen reached a détente, with the county agreeing to increase the annual payment by $50,000 to a total of $626,000.

One provision of that agreement, however, was that the two entities would have to work together to form a plan to improve fire response outside the city limits.

Now, Carter said a potential plan has been formed.

“It makes both parties happy,” he said.

Carter said that while the county board will be having the discussion of the plan first, residents should not think of it as a county idea that is being presented to the city.

“We don’t want to make it look like the county acted first on this — we have worked together on this,” Carter said. “It is very fair for both parties.”

Board Attorney Scott Slover said that during the meeting Monday the supervisors will also hear the annual financial report from Natchez Regional Medical Center and will adopt a resolution of intent to issue a bond for the Rentech property, formerly the International Paper property.

The intent resolution will be for a bond not to exceed $9.25 million.

The county recently entered into a binding agreement with Rentech to buy the land for $9 million.

County and economic development officials said the purchase will allow them to utilize the former IP wastewater treatment plant to treat industrial wastewater from industrial sites in the Natchez-Adams County Port, and the property not used in that regard can be used for industrial recruitment in other ways.

Once the bond intent resolution is adopted, it will be advertised for public comment.

If no formal protest is made on the advertisement, the board will be able to adopt bond-offering documents and — after reviewing bids — adopt the bond.