City to ask county for fire money

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2011

NATCHEZ — In order to help give pay raises to firemen, the Natchez Board of Aldermen said at a Wednesday midterm budget meeting they should ask the county for more money soon.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said the Adams County Board of Supervisors ignored a similar request last year, possibly because they received it too late.

“We need to get on the front end of (the issue), because if we get to September it’s too late,” she said.

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Adams County pays the City of Natchez for fire projection outside the city limits.

Ward 2 Alderman James “Ricky” Gray said the supervisors were already adopting their budget last year when they received the request.

“So we need to get (the request) in sooner, like (Arceneaux-Mathis) said,” Gray said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said the city put fire protection employees on a step scale in recent years, which issues raises at certain levels in their careers, but the county’s millage allocation does not reflect the changes.

She said the administration needs to find out information about how salaries have grown over the years in order to make the request.

Mayor Jake Middleton said he agreed the city should request more money for fire protection from the county.

“We need to cover our costs. I would think the county would work with us on that,” Middleton said.

Arceneaux-Mathis said the county should consider earmarking money to pay for road repairs, which was a motion made by Gray that failed at a past meeting.

She said she understands paying for a road program with bonds might not be the best route, because by the time the bond is paid off, disrepair is likely to surface again.

The board also discussed funding for the library.

Mayor Jake Middleton and City Clerk Donnie Holloway will consider making plans to meet with library commission representatives to make sure the library does not lose approximately $90,000 in state funding because of local cuts to the library’s millage.

Holloway said the county’s budget is in better shape this year than it was in March of last year.

The county’s revenue as of March 31 of this year was $7.33 million, compared to $7.27 on the same date last year.

The county’s expenses as of March 31 this year were $6.46 million, compared to $6.97 million on the same date last year.

Holloway said the clerk’s office is revising the budget now to incorporate a $135,000 loss in gaming revenue from the Isle of Capri casino.

The loss will come from the temporary closing of the casino as a result of potential flooding of the Mississippi River.

He said the city could possibly make up some of the revenue loss from increased sales taxes if Louisiana residents come to Natchez in preparation for the flooding of the Mississippi River.

The mayor said he has been in contact with officials from Vidalia and Ferriday, and the city is willing to help in whatever ways they need.

Middleton said the Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens and Red Cross will probably be working to determine how to help evacuees from Louisiana if the situation across the rivers comes to that point.

“My thoughts and prayers are with those people over there, I hope everything works out fine. And (Natchez) is going to do everything we can do to help.”