City’s blunder nearly cost taxpayers unneeded funds

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 8, 2001

The City of Natchez came perilously close to borrowing money it didn’t need last week after city officials mislabeled more than $800,000 in funding for the convention center.

Without realizing an additional $800,000 in funding existed, the city was about to borrow another $500,000 to help make up the shortcomings in funding for the convention center.

Ultimately it was proven enough money existed. The money had, apparently, been mislabeled and categorized as bluff stabilization funds.

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The fact that the money was &uot;lost&uot; in the first place is inexcusable. We could understand the error had it been a minor, tiny mistake, or if someone had caught it sooner.

But folks, we’re talking about $800,000. This is not petty cash.

We would think such a sizable block of money would be easier to track than if we were discussing smaller amounts. The sheer amount of funding involved should have given more reason to carefully keep track of its whereabouts.

And we’re talking about funding for two of the biggest projects the city has undertaken.

Wouldn’t either a large surplus in one account or a large deficit in another raise a large enough red flag to quickly get someone’s attention?

We think it should have.

Don’t get us wrong. We’re all fallible.

Mistakes happen. They are a simple fact of life. But some mistakes can be more costly than others.

However, in accounting for public funds, systems need to be in place to check – and double check – all transactions to avoid such blunders.

And the City of Natchez nearly cost the taxpayers dearly by letting a small oversight turn into a huge mistake.