City to ask additional $50K for fire protection

Published 12:07 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen is asking the Adams County Board of Supervisors for an additional $50,000 for fire protection during the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Mayor Jake Middleton said he will be going to the county supervisors’ meeting at 9 a.m. Monday to make the request.

“I’m not on the agenda, but I’ll be there,” he said.

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The aldermen authorized the mayor at Tuesday’s meeting to renew the fire protection agreement in exchange for the additional funds. The agreement provides Natchez Fire Department fire protection for residences, businesses and industries in Adams that are outside Natchez city limits.

Middleton said he made a presentation the supervisors four months ago about the fire agreement. He said the discussion was sidetracked by a discussion of road repairs in the Forrest Lawn Subdivision, and he never heard back from the supervisors about the fire agreement.

Grennell said nothing was ever set in stone at the meeting, which he said happened six or seven weeks ago. He said he has not had a meeting or a phone call from the mayor since.

Middleton said approximately 30 percent of NFD’s calls are county calls. He said the additional $50,000 is what it will take to maintain equipment and personnel. He said the money will not help pay for the new fire truck the city purchased.

“It’s not like we’re asking for money to help us,” Middleton said. “We’re just asking for the money it takes to operate.”

Middleton said what the county actually pays is only approximately $90,000, after it receives taxes from the Mississippi Gaming Commission and the state.

Adams County Board of Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said all of the money the county receives from the city’s gaming revenue is used to underwrite the fire agreement.

“We still have to generate money for it, though” he said.

Ward 2 Alderman James “Rickey” Gray said he did not understand why the county could not give the city the money since it raised taxes for fire protection.

“They are charging the citizens for it already,” he said. “Why wouldn’t they give it to us already?”

Grennell said county property taxes were raised for the 2010-11 fiscal year to maintain the financing for the fire agreement. He said the tax raise was not programmed for the current fiscal year, which starts today.

Grennell said the $50,000 request from the city is, in his opinion, unreasonable. He said the agreement the city and the county came to in 1994 had a set amount that was to factor in the cost of living from the consumer price index every year.

“They should have come up with a formula, if there was going to be a need for increase, that said maybe for every 10 years, it would increase by a certain amount,” he said. “But they didn’t, they just said there shall be a CPI.”

Grennell said money for the maintenance of fire vehicles has never come up in the fire agreement discussions.

He said the county, however, bought the city a new fire truck in 1997.

Grennell said the supervisors have not budgeted for an additional $50,000, but the final decision will come from the board.

“We’ll just have to figure out how we’re going to do it,” he said.