Mullins gets OK for five new officers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Aldermen on Tuesday gave Police Chief Mike Mullins approval to hire five more officers, one more than he&8217;s budgeted for, saying they&8217;re concerned about the budget but don&8217;t want to scrimp on public safety.

&8220;Three of those (hires) are already certified, so they could start in a matter of weeks,&8221; Mullins said, adding that one existing officer is set to retire in June.

And although aldermen didn&8217;t talk much about the downtown parking crunch in Tuesday&8217;s meeting, Mullins has sent them a memo noting that proposed $10 parking fines would more than pay for two part-time or one full-time parking enforcement officer.

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In addition, Alderman and police committee chairman Theodore &8220;Bubber&8221; West asked City Clerk Donnie Holloway to get figures together on giving police officers a raise.

The city has been approved for $53,000 in federal funds to install a bigger culvert in a ditch that&8217;s prone to clogging, City Engineer David Gardner said.

In the case of Hurricane Rita storms, that ditch flooded several homes in the Passbach Street area &8212; residents who Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem David Massey said have sued the city for the damages.

The catch: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the source of the funds, prefers to reimburse cities for work already done.

But Gardner told aldermen Tuesday night he is requesting that FEMA pay 75 percent of the amount up front.

In addition, aldermen on Tuesday gave approval for Mayor Phillip West to sign applications for two more grants, ones that require a 25 percent match from the city.

Those include a $1.5 million grant to stabilize the St. Catherine Creek bank that lies near a main sewer line and is eroding and $144,000 to buy two generators for Natchez Water Works.

Gardner also told aldermen the Mississippi Department of Transportation is going to reimburse the city $11,000 for work on the city&8217;s Federal Aid Urban routes, which are main thoroughfares the city gets federal money to repair.

And City Planner Andrew Smith noted that he&8217;s applied for $290,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for infrastructure improvements in the Zoa Street area.

Aldermen also:

4Extended an option with the developers of condos at the Natchez Pecan Factory site to April 25 and extend the time for negotiating an option on the Canal Street lot with hotel developer Thomas Bauer to April 25.

4Voted to accept the Bank of New York and the Rice Financial Group as counterparties for the refunding of the 1999 convention center bonds.

4Voted to apply for a credit card for aldermen travel. The card would be kept in the mayor&8217;s secretary&8217;s office.

4Voted to allow Building Inspector Paul Dawes to advertise for shingle repair and replacement on the City Auditorium.