Local leaders already have legislative wish lists in hand

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 14, 2004

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Christmas has already come and gone, but city and county officials still have their wish lists in hand &045;&045; wish lists for the upcoming legislative session, that is.

For the legislative session that starts Tuesday, city and county officials would like to see legislation introduced that would:

Help attract jobs.

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Supervisor Darryl Grennell would like to see legislation to allow the state Department of Environmental Quality to issue grants for incentive packages for recycling-related industries &045;&045; such as the $15 million rubber recycling plant Concordia Parish leaders are working to land right now.

Adams County was in the running, Grennell said, but the State of Louisiana had additional incentives available for recycling enterprises.

Grennell said he has already talked to both veteran and newly elected area lawmakers about the importance of the bill for both the economy and the environment.

&uot;It’s important to have an industry involved in recycling process in your community,&uot; Grennell said, adding that in addition to creating jobs, when recycle a tire, &uot;that’s one tire you no longer have to put in a landfill.&uot;

Both Smith and Supervisor S.E. &uot;Spanky&uot; Felter said local officials may have to call on legislators during this session for bills to help bring in more jobs.

Those might include bills to increase incentives for particular prospects.

Alderwoman Sue Stedman said she would also like to see more funds included for retraining laid-off workers. She acknowledged funds that have already been made available, but added that &uot;southwest Mississippi is still struggling.&uot;

And Supervisor Sammy Cauthen said he would like to see more money appropriated for ports and harbors. Cauthen has long said the Natchez-Adams County Port is a key to attracting industries to the area.

Address problems with homestead exemptions on property taxes. &uot;I’ve got no problem with granting homestead exemption,&uot; said Mayor F.L. &uot;Hank&uot; Smith.

&uot;But the state was supposed to reimburse us for a good part of that, and due to the (state) budget crunch, they reduced the percentage they reimbursed.&uot; Smith said he would like to see lawmakers restore the full reimbursement.

In addition, Supervisor Henry Watts said he would like to see legislation introduced to require the State Tax Commission to send homestead exemption reimbursements back to local governments in a timely manner.

&uot;When they’re not sending it all back in a timely manner, and when you’re budgeting for … taxes to come in during a certain time of year, that means a shortfall in taxes and a shortfall in your budget,&uot; Watts said.

Allow sheriffs to use radar to catch speeders. Both Grennell and Cauthen spoke of the need for such a bill, although Grennell said he would like to see what Sheriff Ronny Brown’s stance is on the issue. The issue has been a hot one in past years in Adams County since a crossing guard was killed in a school zone by a speeding car.

Reduce unfunded mandates in general. While he did not name specific mandates, Supervisor Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell did say that &uot;it’s easy to mandate something, but it comes down to us and local taxpayers to pay for those things.&uot;

Require voters to show identification when voting, something Cauthen said he would like to see passed this session.

Change a law that, as it now stands, allows sheriff’s offices to clean up cemeteries that are at least 100 years old.

Since the Watkins Street Cemetery, named by nearby residents as an eyesore, is not quite 100 years old many, including Gray, have said they would like to see that changed to 50 years.