Natchez mayor hoping Titan will stay

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said again Tuesday he hopes Titan Tire’s decision to purchase the Natchez plant is a sign of commitment to the local facility.

Smith received a letter Monday from the tire manufacturing company notifiying the city it is exercising its lease option to purchase the plant and the property it occupies for $100.

Included in the letter, dated April 20, was a check for the amount, Smith said. The city now has 60 days turn over the deed to the company.

City Attorney Walter Brown presented the notice to the board of aldermen at its meeting Tuesday and asked that it be placed on the minutes to verify the city had received the letter.

Smith said the option to purchase the building has been part of the lease since Armstrong Tire and Rubber Company was the first to operate the plant in 1939.

And though he cannot speculate why Titan chose to exercise the option now, &uot;I can only hope he wants to own it so he can bring that plant back up to full production,&uot; Smith said, referring to Titan CEO Morry Taylor.

Smith said the purchase amount of the building and property is also part of the lease and was common in industrial revenue bond agreements of that time.

&uot;Just about any of those type leases you look at, you’re going to find a similar type clause,&uot; he said.

Addressing rumors that Titan cannot legally remove equipment from the plant, Smith said the city relinquished any ownership of the equipment when Condere Corporation paid off the last bond issue in the late 1980s.

&uot;As far as the equipment is concerned, the city has no legal stance on forcing Titan to do anything,&uot; Smith said.

After Smith’s report, the aldermen adjourned until 5:30 p.m., Tuesday when a public hearing on the city’s cable needs will be held.

Cable ONE’s franchise agreement with the City of Natchez expires in July.