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County, city aren’t on same recreation consolidation page

NATCHEZ — Rather than relay messages through a middleman, the Adams County Board of Supervisors set a meeting to discuss their differences with the Natchez aldermen about hiring a consolidated recreation program director.

The meeting, set for 9 a.m. April 3, was scheduled after Natchez-Adams County Recreation Commission Chairman Tate Hobdy presented the supervisors Monday with a counter-proposal from the aldermen about the hire of the director.

The county’s adopted proposal — dating to the first half of 2013 — was for both governments to turn over their full recreation budgets assets, and for the county to pay the recreation director’s salary while the city pays for the director’s benefits and provides a vehicle.

Meanwhile, the city’s proposal — adopted last month — was for the commission to hire a director who will oversee the city and county recreation programs. However, the city’s motion calls for the amount $585,600 allocated for golf in the $1 million recreation program to be excluded.

That proviso seemed to irk Supervisor David Carter, who was on the recreation commission prior to his election and serves as the county board’s liaison to the commission.

“I think our position was that we were going to put all of our assets and budgets in, and the city was going to do likewise, and we aren’t there,” Carter said. “(After taking out $585,600), I don’t think you can expect a director to come in and run a whole city recreation program on that budget.”

When Hobdy asked Carter to clarify that he wanted golf to be included in the proposal, Carter said, “That would be my position as a recreation liason.”

“You have a commission, so let a commission run all aspects of recreation,” Carter said.

Supervisor Angela Hutchins likewise raised the point that the two proposals differed on the matter of the recreation director’s benefits.

As the supervisors raised concerns they wanted relayed, Hobdy said, “If y’all want to come to that meeting rather than us playing telephones, y’all are welcome to come.”

While the full board of aldermen was not present Monday, Natchez Mayor Butch Brown and Alderman Rickey Gray were at the meeting.

Brown said even though the county had voted to contribute its entire recreation budget in the agreement, that budget was only $50,000.

“Even when you throw all your money in and we still have approximately $500,000 in the mix, the $50,000 you are talking about out of your budget — and whatever the cost of the director is — is still only about 20 percent of what we are putting out,” he said. “The commitment from the county has been the issue with my board.”

Brown said he had met individually with each supervisor, and had come to some sort of agreement with all of them individually that included — at the supervisors’ insistence — the construction of a swimming pool.

While Carter agreed he had met with the mayor to discuss recreation, he said, “I never once agreed to a pool.”

Brown said it is “disappointing” for the city to keep coming back with proposals.

“We are flexible,” he said. “Our plan is still the same if you want to go forward with it, but we have got to do something sooner rather than later.”

Gray raised a point of concern about the state of a ball field used by the T.M. Jennings league. Brown and Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said the city and the county governments had contributed to the field’s maintenance, but it was actually owned by the Natchez-Adams County School District.

Since the NASD is a signatory part on the interlocal agreement that created the recreation commission, the mayor and supervisors asked the commission members present to contact the NASD board about attending the meeting.

Though a date and time were set for the meeting, the venue was not set.