Board hosts public hearing to discuss budget

Published 12:13am Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NATCHEZ The Natchez Board of Aldermen discussed cutting its payment to Natchez Water Works for engineering services Monday and in turn not charging Water Works for administrative services.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said after the budget meeting that he raised the question of how much the city pays Natchez Water Works, which contracts with the city for its services, for engineering services and how much Natchez Water Works pays the city for administrative fees.

Dillard said the city budgeted $465,000 for administrative fees to be paid by the engineering department. He said, however, the city had only collected $399,000.

Natchez Water Works, Dillard said, pays the city $265,000 for administrative fees.

Dillard said he thinks it would be simpler to, instead of worrying about the flow of money between the city clerk’s and Natchez Water Works offices, to essentially call it even on the fee payments.

“We would say, ‘We won’t charge you $465,000 if you won’t charge us for engineering services,” he said after the meeting.

Mayor Butch Brown said after the meeting that he would prefer the board leave the budget to reflect the $200,000 net revenue to the city from the Water Works fees and revisit the issue if needed after the budget is adopted.

Dillard said he hopes to have the issue resolved before the budget is adopted.

The board is scheduled to adopt the budget at its Sept. 24 meeting.

The city publicly advertised a budget of approximately $34 million.

Dillard said, however, City Clerk Donnie Holloway presented a $37 million budget at the hearing, saying the $34 million figure was an error. Holloway could not be reached Monday night for comment.

In other news from the hearing:

• Dillard asked Holloway to provide the board with an updated budget that includes current cash balances for accounts.

For example, Dillard said, the casino lease payment fund should have approximately $270,000 that will carry over from the current fiscal year into next fiscal year.

The proposed budget, however, only includes $1 million for the fund that will be paid in January 2014. Dillard said he would like to see the cash balance included in the proposed budget so the aldermen will know exactly how much money would be in the account.

• Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration Founder Carolyn Vance Smith requested a $5,000 appropriation from the city for the annual festival. Dillard said he is confident the city will grant Smith’s request.