Empty seats are multiplying

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 20, 2010

The City of Natchez’s game of personnel limbo at City Hall continues.

A few months after financial woes sparked a round of layoffs leaving the city’s planning department gutted, another personnel shoe will drop at the end of next month.

City Building Inspector Paul Dawes, arguably among the most well respected city department heads, recently announced his plans to leave his position June 30.

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Dawes’ retirement will mark the fourth departure of a city department head in seven months.

Some of the vacancies have occurred as a result of downsizing government in an effort to save some money — which is a good thing.

However, streamlining government must be done in an intelligent manner. If existing city services are to continue, a clear plan for keeping that work handled is necessary.

Although the move to put the public works responsibility under the city engineering department’s oversight seems to have been a good move, the city needs to be careful in operating so thinly that big issues go by the wayside.

Operating for more than six months with only a skeleton crew in the city planning office is not wise.

While it may save some funds in the short run, it may cost our community dearly in the long run if city codes are not properly enforced and no master plan for the city is kept up to date and adhered to on a daily basis.

For now, there are more seats than players in this round of city musical chairs.

The question is: How low can we go before the lack of city personnel starts costing us in ways that cannot be easily fixed?