Mayor Brown hopes to hire planner soon

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 23, 2012

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is currently in the process of scheduling interviews with applicants for city planner, and Mayor Butch Brown said he hopes to have a planner hired by Sept. 11.

Brown said five of the 10 applicants who were short-listed for the position of city planner have expressed interest in interviewing for the position.

The applicants, Brown said, are from cities all over the country, including Carson City, Nev., Mount Vernon, Wash., and Little Rock, Ark. The applicants’ experience ranges from five to 10 years, Brown said.

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All but one of the applicants have master’s degree in planning, all are certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners and have prior planning experience.

“We have a really good, highly qualified pool of applicants,” Brown said.

All but one applicant has historic preservation experience, Brown said.

“We want (the planner) to be knowledgeable, and we want his or her planning experience and administrative skills for dealing with our codes,” he said. “Of course, with the nature of our community, historic preservation experience in planning would be a real plus.”

The city planner’s position was left open after former city planner Bob Nix retired June 30.

The city, Brown said, has not officially set a salary for the position. Nix’s salary was $48,000.

The city is in the process of finalizing the hiring of James Johnston as community development director. Johnson most recently worked as the Claiborne County administrator.

Brown also recently hired a new administrative assistant, Analisa Therrien. Former administrative assistant Temple Hendricks is moving to the planning and community development department to be the assistant to the community development director and city planner.

Brenda Cantu, who worked part-time at City Hall, has been hired full-time and put in charge of the city’s new human resources department.

The job-shifting and new hires are part of Brown’s reorganization of city departments since taking office July 2.

The planning and zoning department was renamed the planning and community development department. Brown said Johnson and whoever is hired as city planner will serve as equal department heads in the department.

Brown also moved public works out from under the umbrella of the engineering department and made it a separate department shortly after taking office.

Brown said the city is working to hire a planner as soon as possible.

“We may not have a planner in place Sept. 11, but that would be an ideal goal, since we are scheduled to adopt our budget Sept. 11,” he said.