Engineering contract extended until end of July

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to extend the engineering contract between the city and Natchez Water Works until the end of July rather than to renew it outright.

Alderman Rickey Gray, who made the motion, said he did so in order to allow the new board of aldermen, which will take office July 1, to make the final decision about the contract.

“I checked with the (Mississippi) attorney general, and I am not sure it is legal to tie down the new board to the decisions of this one,” he said. “If they decide they want to (renew the contract) or do something else, this will let them.”

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The City of Natchez and Natchez Water Works entered into an inter-local agreement seven years ago that contracted Water Works to provide an engineering department for the city. The seven-employee department is headed by David Gardner, who was the city engineer before resigning to work for Natchez Water Works and who now serves as de facto city engineer under the contract.

Gardner was not able to attend the aldermen’s meeting because of a scheduling conflict, but he attended the finance meeting the aldermen had before the meeting opened.

During the finance meeting, Gardner told the aldermen that too many projects are under way to simply let the contract die.

“I guess if we are going to renew it, it needs to be renewed, and if we are not going to renew it, it still needs to be renewed and then transitioned out of it,” Gardner said. “It is not something you can stop, because there are so many things going on.”

Gardner told the aldermen that it is in their best interest to renew the contract.

“It has a six-month option to opt out, so it is not a big deal to just renew it, and if you are wanting to have some open discussions about (the current arrangement), we can do that,” Gardner said.

The contract was last renewed two years ago.