City leaders headed to conference; trip to cost $16K

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, June 19, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story incorrectly listed the overall cost for the city officials’ trip to the Mississippi Municipal Conference in Biloxi next week. The correct cost is approximately $10,300. For more information go to: https:

NATCHEZ — Incoming and outgoing city officials will be heading to Biloxi next week along with municipal officials from across the state for the Mississippi Municipal League’s annual conference.

Mayor Jake Middleton, Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Ward 2 Alderman James “Rickey” Gray, Ward 3 Alderman-elect Sarah Carter Smith, Ward 4 Alderman Ernest “Tony” Fields, City Clerk Donnie Holloway and City Attorney Everett Sanders are attending the conference.

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The city will pick up the bill for the conference, and the trip will cost an average of approximately $468 per day for each official, totaling approximately $16,300 for the trip.

According to the MML website, the conference agenda includes training and education sessions, affiliate group and mayors’ association activities, the annual membership business meeting and election of officers, MML Hall of Fame inductions and the MML Excellence Awards presentation.

Ward 3 Alderman Bob Pollard, who was defeated by Smith in the June 5 general election, was planning on attending the conference but said Monday he is not going because it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“I am not going to gain anything by going to those meetings, because I am not going to be able to come back and use that information to help the city,” Pollard said. “I didn’t see any need in wasting taxpayers’ money to go on the trip.”

Middleton, whose last day in office is June 29, is attending the conference even though he is the outgoing mayor. Middleton said he is on a MML legislative committee and is the voting representative for Natchez for the election of new officers at the conference.

“I’m also getting inducted in the (MML) Hall of Fame,” Middleton said.

Middleton said officials become eligible for the hall of fame after serving 20 years as an elected official.

Mayor-elect Larry L. “Butch” Brown said Monday he has not definitively worked out his schedule to decide if he will attend the conference.

“If I go, it will only be for overnight, and I will be going at the request of the city,” he said.

Gray made a motion that passed at the aldermen’s June 12 meeting to allow Brown and Smith to attend the conference if they desired.

Smith said she is hoping to “get my feet wet” at the conference.

“(I’m going) to really take it all in,” she said. “I have talked to a couple of aldermen about workshops they recommend, and hopefully I will find something that really peaks my interest to get involved in.”

Brown said attending the conference is a good idea, because it allows local officials to create and maintain relationships with other municipal officials.

“Relationships are one of the key ingredients for any elected official,” Brown said. “(The conference) lets officials keep their relationships open, and the workshops and seminars are always informative.”