EDA progress on hold pending city, county agreement

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2000

Once again, the future of economic development is suspended between and Adams County Board of Supervisors and Natchez Board of Aldermen.

The boards cannot agree on how the Natchez-Adams County Economic Development Authority should be structured or how it will be funded. Several aldermen and Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith have said an agreement needs to be reached soon so a bill can included in an anticipated special legislative session on economic development.

At the aldermen meeting Tuesday, City Attorney Walter Brown said he has heard Gov. Ronnie Musgrove will call the special session by the end of August or early September.

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Brown said he sent the second EDA proposal, with small modifications, to the county on June 21. Because supervisors did not address the proposal in their July meetings, Brown said he contacted board President Virginia Salmon requesting more immediate action.

&uot;This week I sent another letter asking them to act on this as quickly as possible,&uot; Brown said.

Brown said the city and the county had a reached consensus on the EDA in December 1999, but the board of supervisors has not acted on the agreement. In a joint meeting between the two boards on July 12, the supervisors made it clear they did not want a mayor, whether Smith or anyone else, to represent the city on the authority.

The latest version of the proposal before the county would not allow the Natchez mayor to fill the city’s one appointment to the five-member board. It also removes a two-year repealer clause from the agreement.

But, the current proposal does not change the amount funded by the city versus the county. At present, the city would pay 20 percent of the total cost, or about $50,000. The county pays approximately $175,000.

Supervisor Darryl Grennell said the city needs to contribute more in order to attract a qualified executive director for the authority — a position that is currently vacant. &uot;We’re at our max in terms of contributing to the EDA,&uot; because of several other projects to which the county is committed, he said.

&uot;The city’s going to have to help out more,&uot; he said, adding that he would prefer a 50-50 split in funding, but would settle for $75,000 from the city.

In exchange for more funding, Grennell said he would be willing to accept more representation from the city.

If the city were to contribute 50 percent, the city and county could appoint two members each and the fifth jointly, Grennell said.

Supervisors are attending a conference in Biloxi this week and will not meet again until Aug. 8.