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Government boards have agreed to recreation department contribution

Published 12:08am Sunday, March 16, 2014

Six years after the formation of a commission meant to consolidate recreation efforts in Adams County, the commission finds itself for the first time in a position to start that consolidation.

The two government boards that have a financial stake in the consolidation — the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Natchez Board of Aldermen — have both agreed to contribute to a recreation program run by a director chosen by the Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission.

Before that director can be hired, both boards have to agree to the other board’s commitment. NACRC President Tate Hobdy said he would present the city’s proposal to the county supervisors Monday for review.

“I am glad this is moving forward,” said Natchez Alderman Mark Fortenbery, who serves as the city board’s liaison to the commission. “Our next step is to get the director hired. Once the city and county establish their funding, the director can start directing and spend the money the way it needs to be spent.”

The plans

Last month, the aldermen voted to turn over the city’s recreation budget and operations — with the exception of golf, which is currently operated by a third party under contract  — to a director hired by the recreation commission.

The vote included a stipulation that the recreation commission would consider building a swimming pool as part of an expansion of recreation facilities.

The city’s vote followed a year to the day the board of supervisors voted to fund the recreation director’s position and turn over the county’s recreation budget to the commission.

Under the proposal the supervisors adopted at Hobdy’s behest, the county would fund the recreation director’s salary at $45,000 a year and turn over the county’s annual recreation budget of $50,000.

The county plan calls for the city to provide the director’s benefits, a vehicle and $15,000 toward salary in addition to turning over its approximately $1 million recreation budget. Of that total, approximately $585,600 is allocated for golf.

Because the county vote was more than a year ago and the city’s plan was different in some aspects, Hobdy said he wants to work to get everyone on the same page before the commission moves to hire a director.

“The county motion and vote was done so long ago that I am sure the supervisors’ perspective on it has changed,” he said. “Once we go to the supervisors meeting, we have to see what they want to do with relation to (the differences in the proposals).”

Supervisor David Carter said he plans to speak with the other supervisors about the proposals Monday. Carter said he would like to see the city fully commit to the plan and to have both boards step back from the commission.

“My position has always been that if we are all in, (the city) should be all in, too,” he said.

“We put in 100 percent, they put in 100 percent, and we have a private commission to run it. That takes the politics out of recreation.”

Once the commission gets direction from the boards, it will work on a final job description for the director and advertise the position, Hobdy said.

“Realistically, it seems like it is a long way off, but it would make a lot of sense to line up the hiring of the new director with the budget year (starting in October),” he said. “If it will happen that way, I don’t know.”

Six years of lead time

Discussion of a consolidated recreation program has been ongoing for more than 20 years, but the most recent push to make it happen started in earnest in 2008 with the signing of an inter-local agreement that formed the nine-member NACRC.