Hand-me-down cars common for city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NATCHEZ — It’s a game of car hand-me-downs that keeps Natchez city officials moving.

According to tradition, each time a new mayor takes office, he gets a new car.

The previous mayor’s car stays on the road, though. It is passed to a city department in need.

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The car shuffling allows the city to upgrade vehicles in a cost efficient way, City Clerk Donnie Holloway said.

Recreation Director Ralph Tedder is now driving the Mercury Mountaineer purchased by Mayor Phillip West.

Mayor Jake Middleton opted to move the Mountaineer from his city budget to the recreation budget in September.

The Mountaineer had a $730 per month car note.

The Mountaineer was purchased the second year of former Mayor Phillip West’s administration for $31,941.50.

In October 2008, the car note dropped from $730 to $439 a month, Holloway said.

Before making the November payment, the city transferred the car to the recreation department and let out bids for a new car for Middleton.

Middleton now drives a 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis, with a monthly payment of $459.52.

Holloway said Tedder was chosen to receive the Mountaineer because the 1999 Dodge Intrepid Tedder was previously driving needed repair.

The repairs would have cost between $4,000 and $5,000.

So instead of buying a new car, Tedder got the Mountaineer.

Holloway also said had the city tried to trade the Mountaineer, the city would not have gotten much money on it, as it had more than 70,000 miles on it in the less than three years it was driven.

Holloway said it’s standard practice to swap cars among departments.

Before West acquired the Mountaineer, he drove a Mercury Grand Marquis, which was transferred to the public works department when West got the Mountaineer.