Officials ask legislators for money

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — City officials traveled to Jackson Wednesday to ask for the remaining $650,000 for the road overlay project.

The city has taken out a loan from a local bank for the remaining money not received through the Mississippi Development Authority.

The five-year loan has a 2.95 percent interest rate and will go toward paying the project’s contractor.

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However, city officials hope to receive money from the state in order to pay back the loan.

Several city officials traveled to Jackson in January to speak with local delegation and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Percy Watson.

It was the intent of the legislature that the city receive $1.3 million for the project. When the legislature appropriated $9 million to MDA, it sent a letter stating said intent.

However, what city officials didn’t realize is that the money was to be applied for and was not a line item. Without ever applying, the city was never sent the money.

Watson signed the letter of intent.

Mayor Jake Middleton, City Engineer David Gardner, City Attorney Everett Sanders, City Clerk Donnie Holloway and aldermen Bob Pollard and Mark Fortenbery spoke with Watson again Wednesday.

“We had a real good meeting,” Middleton said. “He was very receptive.”

Middleton said city officials also met with Rep. Sam Mims, Sen. Bob Dearing and MDA officials.

He said not only did they want to make their presence known and ask again for money, but they also wanted to explain how the city had taken out a loan.

“We told MDA that we have had to borrow money to pay the contractor, and we didn’t have money to do it,” Middleton said.

“We don’t have a rainy day fund of a million dollars just sitting around that we can pull from.”

MDA has sent the city the first $650,000 but has denied a second installment.

“We obviously didn’t let that deter our attempts to go back,” Middleton said. “Appropriations bills are starting to roll out and we wanted to make sure everybody saw our face again and just a reminder that we’re still very much interested in obtaining that funding for the other half.”

The legislative session closes the first week in April.