City finds $806,000 for center project

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 7, 2001

NATCHEZ – With the discovery of an $806,000 certificate of deposit – in addition to $1 million from an escrow fund – the city will have enough money to finish and furnish the convention center without a loan, Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith said.

Last month, the Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to apply for a $500,000 Capital Improvements Revolving Loan program from the Mississippi Development Authority to help finish the project.

But last week, when City Clerk Donnie Holloway and City Engineer David Gardner checked to see what the balance in the city’s bluff stabilization fund was, they found $806,000 in excess funds, Gardner said.

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The problem was that a one-year certificate of deposit containing $806,000 in convention center bond funds, when the CD had come due, had inadvertently been placed in the bluff fund instead of the convention center fund.

&uot;We were just switching funds and several CDs were coming due, and when we were rolling the monies into checking accounts, it (the $806,000) just got switched,&uot; Holloway said. He said Thursday that he is not sure exactly when the CD came due or when the money was placed in the bluff fund.

&uot;I don’t know whose mistake that was. I do know that with this money, and with the $1 million, we will not have to proceed with the (CAP) loan application&uot; to have enough money for convention center project, Smith said Thursday.

Smith was referring to the $1 million that AmBac – the New York-based company that issued $12 million in bonds for the project – required the city to put in a reserve fund.

The city got approval last week from AmBac to remove the $1 million from the fund and use it to help fund the convention center project.

The city will need to put a surety bond in its place and will still need to be approval later this month from the Mississippi Development Bank.

Meanwhile, Gardner said that even with the $806,000 in CD funds being placed back in the convention center fund, there will still be enough money in the bluff stabilization fund to pay for improvements at Roth Hill.

&uot;There’s still almost $1 million in the (bluff stabilization) fund,&uot; Gardner said. &uot;That’s enough to finish the project and to hook up to the city’s utilities, which was not included in this contract with Georgetown Construction.&uot;

Georgetown Construction started work on the project last week. That project will include rebuilding Roth’s Hill Road and making other infrastructure changes needed to attract businesses to the riverfront site.