City cemetery proceeds to pay for expansion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 2, 2000

Proceeds from the sale of new burial spaces in Natchez City Cemetery will not profit the city, but help it recoup the cost of expansion, city officials said Friday.

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said the city has invested about $300,000 in the development of two new plots to add about 2,100 spaces to the cemetery.

An amended ordinance and a resolution passed by the board of aldermen Tuesday set the price of new burial spaces at $500 each and mandated that proceeds be divided evenly between the city and the Natchez Cemetery Association.

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Prior to Dec. 1, when the ordinance took effect, all proceeds from the sale of burial spaces went to the association for cemetery maintenance. Though it will be years before all the spaces are sold, the city stands to receive more than $500,000 from the cemetery expansion.

The Bluff Plot, built in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, was developed using dirt removed in the bluff stabilization project, City Engineer David Gardner said.

Because the city is responsible for 25 percent of the bluff project, Gardner estimated the cost of the Bluff Plot to be about $25,000.

&uot;It’s not a matter of putting dirt in a hole somewhere; it’s much more involved than that,&uot; Smith said.

Once a bayou, the McPherson Plot was built in 1995 using Natural Resource Conservation Service funds, Gardner said.

The city also provided a 25 percent match to the $1 million project, totalling about $250,000.

Gardner said neither figure includes the cost of in-kind engineering work, surveying and plotting the burial grounds and registering them at the Adams County Courthouse.

City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the city’s expenditures in the expansion also do not include appropriations given to the cemetery each year for operation.

Since 1990, the city has given the cemetery $357,147 and appropriations for this year total $39,600, he said.

&uot;We’re not in it for profit,&uot; Holloway said. &uot;It’s a matter of recouping what we put in.&uot;

Smith said he believes there is a misconception among Natchezians that if city employees perform the work, it does not cost the city money.

Both Smith and Holloway said the city’s renewed involvement in the cemetery is not an indication of mistrust of the cemetery association.