City, county may revisit EDA plans

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 20, 2000

The city and county may have another chance this year to get the Legislature to shrink the board of the Natchez-Adams County Economic and Community Development Authority.

Earlier this year, and supervisors could not agree on a structure for the now 15-member board. Most people agree the EDA board is too large, and plans called for the board to be reduced to five people, with a combination appointed by the city and county.

Because the Legislature created the EDA, state lawmakers must approve any changes to its structure.

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City Attorney Walter Brown said there’s a chance the city and county could come up with a new compromise on the EDA&160;structure and submit it to the Legislature during its special session.

But Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is the person who decides what lawmakers will discuss at the session, which has not yet been scheduled, and the proposed agenda is already tight.

&uot;This would certainly fit the theme,&uot; said Brown, noting that Musgrove wants the special session to focus on economic development.

At its Tuesday meeting, the board of aldermen voted to revise the EDA structure plan, send it back to the county, and then send it to the Legislature if the governor allows it on the special session schedule.

If a new structure is not approved during the special session – which could be called as late as this fall – the city and county will have to wait until next spring to get a bill passed.

That could delay the search for a new EDA director back even further. The jointly-funded authority has been struggling without a full-time director since early 1999. State Rep. Andrew Ketchings is the associate director.

&uot;I think they could still find someone,&uot; Brown said of the board’s search for a director.

&uot;But it would certainly be better structurally&uot; to wait until a new board is in place, he added.

Virginia Salmon, president of the board of supervisors, said the aldermen and supervisors will likely meet in early July, and the EDA should be a topic of conversation.

Natchez Mayor-Elect F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith has said the EDA will be one of his first priorities after he is sworn into office June 30.

Smith said Tuesday he would also like to see the Legislature take action on the EDA structure at its special session, but if not, he sees no reason to wait to hire a full-time director.

&uot;I hope that’s not something we’d have to wait on,&uot; he said.

Smith also said he agrees the board needs to be smaller – and he hopes the city and county can continue the compromise talks they’ve been having on the subject for the past few months.

&uot;I don’t want to go back and redo the negotiations that have already been done,&uot; he said.

&uot;It’s been awhile getting to this point.&uot;

Salmon said she talked with Smith Tuesday about the EDA, and she agrees getting the new structure passed during the special session is a possibility.