City should have plan for new revenue

Published 12:02am Sunday, June 9, 2013

The City of Natchez received an increase in its allowance, and every leader has an idea for how to spend the new money.

Thankfully, no one is seeking to waste the money on gumballs or an outlandish equivalent, but if aldermen aren’t careful the annual $1 million will be committed before they know it.

The money is a lease payment from Magnolia Bluffs Casino, which now occupies the city’s most prized piece of real estate.

Leaders have suggested the money be used to pave streets badly in need of repairs, help pay the daily bills, pay down debt, repair properties in need of care and simply start a rainy day fund.

Every idea on the list needs funds; we agree.

And it’s great to have a new source of revenue from which to write the checks.

But the time to outline a formal plan for the annual $1 million is now — or yesterday.

City leaders owe it to the public to be careful, and open, about how they spend the dollars. It’s the primary stream of revenue from public land that many local residents can no longer enjoy.

With that property off the market for future — potentially more profitable — ventures, the $1 million should be closely protected for as long as it lasts.

Aldermen need to plan a series of public meetings at which they’ll outline and agree upon a written plan for the funds. Then, they should stick to the plan and meet annually to revise it as things change.

An increase in allowance should only come when it’s been earned, so Natchez’s leaders must prove they are indeed worthy of the gift.