Aldermen to consider center rates

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Arthur Brown says he can’t afford to hold a Christmas party in the Natchez Community Center because extra expenses have driven the cost too high.

Brown told the board of aldermen Tuesday he believes the city should revamp its rate structure for the center. &uot;If you are part of the rich it begins to add up,&uot; Brown said, noting in addition to his $500 rental fee he would also have to pay for event insurance and rental on tables and chairs.

&uot;It becomes not affordable,&uot; Brown said. He asked if aldermen could do &uot;some reworking … to make it more accessible to people who are part of the ‘not rich.’&uot;

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Ward 2 Alderman Ricky Gray asked if the board could meet with Natchez tourism department officials to discuss the rental rates.

&uot;I suggest we look into this matter,&uot; he said. &uot;This is a community center for the people.&uot;

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sue Stedman said she would set a date for a meeting.

The community center, completed this spring, is located in a renovated car dealership across the street from the site of the future convention center downtown. The first event hosted there was June’s three-day Natchez Literary Celebration.

&uot;If (the community center) cannot be utilized at a reasonable rate then we have defeated our purpose,&uot; Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West said.

But Tourism Director Walter Tipton said he thought the city intended the community center to complement the convention center as an additional meeting facility.

Tipton said the community center – and eventually the convention center – are available to anyone in the community who wants to rent them at competitive rates.

&uot;I don’t think the rates we’re charging are out of line,&uot; Tipton said. &uot;But I’m also open for alternatives if that’s what they want to do.&uot;

Tipton said just turning the electricity on at the community center, especially during the summer, costs about $250 per day.

Tipton estimated Brown would spend about $5 per person to host 200 people at the party.

&uot;We think that’s a bargain,&uot; Tipton said.

In fact, the community center’s $500 rental rate is half that of the old convention center, which the city sold to the Natchez-Adams School District last year.

Ward 5 Alderman David Massey said the community center is more affordable than some other alternatives for meeting spaces in the city.

&uot;We want to make it as affordable as we possible can,&uot; Massey said in the finance committee meeting before the regular meeting. &uot;We also want to break even.&uot;