Supervisors keep consolidation talks going

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — Consolidation was the word of the day for county leaders and Rep. Angela Cockerham at Monday’s board of supervisor’s meeting.

Cockerham, who visited supervisors to hear their concerns before the legislative session begins in 2010, took questions from supervisors about the likelihood of consolidation for Adams County.

“There has been a lot of consolidation talk,” Cockerham said. “If the consolidation is going to be used as a means of savings, I personally would like to see where these savings are going to take place.”

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Supervisor Darryl Grennell told the representative that he was not aware of a place in the state Constitution where consolidation of county and city bodies was defined.

Cockerham said if county and city governments were to merge in the state, steps would have to be taken to add to the state’s constitution.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus, who first mentioned consolidation at the board’s last meeting, said the purpose of presenting the idea to supervisors was to have them think about the possibilities.

“I don’t have any numbers right now, but I wanted to put the seed in their heads,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus said he has heard of instances where consolidation was not the answer to help areas save money and simplify government.

“In some set forms, (consolidation) has failed miserably,” Lazarus said. “The only way to do this is if it saves money.”

Cockerham said judging by the state’s financial forecast for next year, fiscal responsibility will be top priority for local governments.

“With he fiscal situations we are all facing, it’s important that we figure out ways to save money,” Cockerham said.

But without numbers and facts to show consolidation as a successful way to help out the Adams County area financially, Cockerham said she couldn’t say whether or not she could stand behind the idea.

“I’m not saying it’s particularly good or bad,” Cockerham said. “I just would like to make sure that there really would be some benefits for the city and county.”

Cockerham said she wasn’t aware of any studies that had been done in terms of consolidation for southwest Mississippi.

“When something is good for one part of the state, that doesn’t necessarily make it good for the entire state,” Cockerham said.

Board President Henry Watts said he had spoken with Rep. Sam Mims this weekend and discussed consolidation.

Watts said he still wants to hear about all the areas Lazarus can find to consolidate and save money for the county and city, but after talking to Mims, he thinks facts and figures might take longer to find than anticipated.

“I talked to Sam Mims and he basically mirrored what Ms. Cockerham said today,” Watts said.

In other news:

Supervisors voted to publish the FEMA 361 shelter’s request for qualifications for the architectural firm.

“We needed to publish it as soon as possible,” County Administrator Cathy Walker said. “There is a certain amount of time once you accept the project that they have to publish this.”

Since the county would be the grant recipient, the responsibility of publishing the material falls to the supervisors.

Supervisors are still working with the Natchez-Adams School District to collaborate on finding an area the storm shelter will best serve the county.

Supervisor Felter told supervisors about a littering problem on Woodman Road that he would like the county to take care of.

Felter said one house on the road has trash piled alongside it.

“People are bringing (trash) out of their house and throwing it into the ditch,” Felter said. “I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

It was decided Walker will draw up a letter and send it to the people who have been spotted throwing their garbage out on the roadside.

“It’s just one person doing it. A lady called me and said she had seen it happen,” Felter said.

Felter said he’s been seeing the problem for about three months.

“I’ve received a lot of complaints from people who live on that road,” he said.

Felter requested a sheriff’s deputy take a letter or warning to the person who has been seen littering.

Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell requested Road Manager Curly Jones send road crews out before Dec. 17 to fill potholes on Cardinal Drive and Old Meadville Road.

Felter told Jones that stop signs on Red Loop Road have been marked on and pushed down and requested something be done to fix the signs.

Felter also mentioned signs around the county have been bent and broken.

“There is a penalty for that if (those responsible) get caught,” Felter said.

Jones told supervisors once signs are bent, they must be replaced because they can not stand on their own once warped.