Decisions needed on clerk position

Published 12:01am Thursday, July 17, 2014

The City of Natchez needs to begin working on its fiscal year 2015 budget, but doing so requires a level of faith and trust that does not exist.

City leaders need faith in any numbers or financial reports coming from the city clerk’s office. To call leaders skeptical is an understatement.

Quite simply, aldermen and the mayor don’t trust that the city clerk’s office provides accurate, trustworthy data.

This isn’t a personal attack against City Clerk Donnie Holloway. He’s a nice guy who is simply in a situation beyond his limits.

The loss of a long-time city clerk’s office employee — who seemingly kept much of the basic knowledge needed to run the office in his head — combined with pressure to produce accurate, simple-to-understand financial reports led to the purchase of a new accounting software package.

In turn, that software, which proved more complicated than originally believed, led to what seems to be years of training and excuses.

As recently as last month city records showed a massive — seven-figure — swing in its financial position, mostly due to accounting errors.

Before the city begins to build a budget for the next year, we urge Natchez leaders to make a plan for how to resolve the issues in the city clerk’s office.

They’ve discussed making the position appointed rather than elected, with the idea that the most popular person who runs for office may not be qualified to do the work.

We hope the city will have a serious talk with Adams County leaders about possibly sharing the payroll processing, accounts payable and accounts receivable functions of city and county government.

Of course that, too, requires having a bit of faith and a little trust.