Supervisors: Rec plan remains a focus

Published 12:09 am Thursday, January 7, 2010

NATCHEZ — While the county’s bond rating has been downgraded, one thing supervisors say has not changed is the plan to begin discussions about recreation.

Supervisor President Darryl Grennell said since the county’s bond rating was reduced by Moody’s Investors Services, the county would not be able to borrow bond money without a high interest rate.

But that issue won’t affect recreation this year.

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“This year is actually a planning year for recreation which doesn’t require a bond issue,” Grennell said. “(This year) our purpose is to put together that nine-member commission to start the beginning stages (of planning).”

Grennell said the first official meeting between the county, city and school board is currently being planned.

“We have not set any hard-core dates but we are working toward meeting at the end of (January),” Grennell said.

Supervisor Henry Watts said if construction were to happen at this time, there wouldn’t be a way for the county to participate financially in the recreation plan.

“As far as other projects go, it’s disappointing to know that the new rating is going to affect the county’s ability to borrow bonds,” Watts said. “It’s especially disappointing for the county’s road program.”

Watts said it was imperative the county show Moody’s Investors Services that it is not as big of a credit risk than originally thought because future borrowing depends on it.

“(The bond rating) affects the county’s recreation program too because you need to borrow money for that as well,” Watts said.

Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell said as far as timelines go, the county has plenty of time to get its budget in shape and its bond rating up before worrying about construction.

“It wasn’t going to happen this year anyway. At the very best, it’s two years away to even start it up,” Campbell said.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said just because the county’s bond rating is down a step, that doesn’t mean the county is in poor financial standing and will be abandoning recreation plans.

“I don’t think (the bond rating) is going to affect recreation,” Lazarus said.

“But we’ve got to get our nine-member board appointed. We’re not even worried about the financing right now,” Lazarus said.

Lazarus said the meeting with financial advisor Demery Grubbs has started the ball rolling to get the county’s budget cleaned up.

“It’s not bad news — it’s something that needed rectifying and cleaning up,” Lazarus said.

Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter said with the way the county’s budget has been for the past few years, he thinks the only way Adams County will be able to participate in funding a recreation facility is through a city sales tax.

“I don’t think we could build (a complex) with that kind of news (about the bonds), but I think it could be done with the sales tax,” Felter said.

“They all say the county doesn’t pay sales tax, but people come from the county into the city and buy things,” Felter said. “It’s the only fair tax.

“With the Legislature in session, now’s the time to do it. We have a window of opportunity.”

Felter said he wants to see both the county’s roads project and recreation facility come to fruition, but he hopes the roads are the first order of business for the county.

Though roads are important, Lazarus said recreation is a long-term commitment and promise to the people of Adams County.

“We have been given direction by the people of Adams County that they want recreation, and it’s our job to step up to the plate and make it happen,” Lazarus said.