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Taxpayers taking hits in local venues

In the boxing match between logical use of taxpayer money and wasteful spending by local elected officials the spenders won the latest round.

From Natchez to Ferriday taxpayers took a few hard blows last week.

In Natchez, aldermen gave taxpayers a left hook when they sidestepped a chance to spend less money. Instead, they chose the irresponsible route, voting to offer pay raises to two city departments.

No doubt, the workers are deserving of raises. It’s likely they’ve been passed over for similar raises for years.

The problem, however, comes from the city’s recent fiscal position. Five of the aldermen voted to go against the advice of the one man who is responsible for keeping track of the city’s checkbook — City Clerk Donnie Holloway.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was the lone voice of reason in the debate. Her vote against the raises was noteworthy and should be appreciated by city taxpayers.

Offering pay raises to some departments during the same week that the police chief expressed great concern over the reliability of the city’s aging police car fleet is deeply troubling.

The move indicates the politicians aim only to please everyone in the short term, with little concern for what’s best in the long term.

Their decisions seem even more irresponsible when you consider we’re only three months into the fiscal year. It’s not the time to start making changes to our plan.

That’s particularly true when you take into consideration that the city borrowed $375,000 in the first two months of the fiscal year just to pay its bills.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the board of aldermen could decide on a budget and fiscal policy and stick to them for longer than three months?

How much better would Natchez’s finances be if aldermen took the attitude that city money — all generated by taxpayers — should be spent sparingly and only when absolutely required?

Just across town, the Adams County Supervisors are working to take back a puzzling punch of their own.

Supervisors — or at least a few of them — seem hell bent on getting county roadwork done ahead of the November election.

The rush to do this seems to have pushed the bounds of the law or at least common sense. Supervisors are now considering rescinding a vote to award a concrete roadway repair job to a contractor who initially had no insurance and whose bid seems questionable in validity.

The whole issue seems odd, at best, fishy at worst.

But the fishiest news — and the nastiest public punch — from last week came from Ferriday, where the town leaders voted to repay legal fees of the former mayor.

According to state law, the town is not required to pay the fees. Fortunately, Ferriday’s current mayor, Glen McGlothin, has temporarily stopped the insanity by vetoing the measure. But an override of his veto seems likely.

If Ferriday were flush with cash, perhaps the issue wouldn’t be so troubling.

Given Ferriday’s financial state, it’s beyond rational understanding why the town would even consider forking out $129,000 to pay a bill they’ve never even seen — and aren’t legally required to pay.

If the veto is overruled, hopefully, Ferriday citizens will pursue legal action against the irresponsible elected officials who are punching them in the face with their malfeasance.

All of these actions smack of greed, corruption, ignorance, selfishness or a combination of more than one.

Hopefully, voters know how to take a punch and fight back when election season comes around.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

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