Aldermen must step up, demand financial answers

Published 12:05 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

At first blush, news that Natchez Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith left a board meeting early to vote in Tuesday’s county primary runoff election seems troubling.

Logically, citizens might ask, “Couldn’t she have voted earlier?”

Sure, she could have, but she likely didn’t realize she needed to do so since Tuesday’s board meeting was shockingly long — approximately five hours — and the most important vote popped up in the last few minutes.

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Kudos goes to Smith for realizing the importance of voting and rushing to participate in the process.

Minutes after Smith left, however, aldermen were asked to borrow $1 million to help the city make its financial obligations — including payroll — over the next several months. Eventually the amount the city borrowed was lowered to $350,000. City Clerk Donnie Holloway said the money was needed to make August’s payroll. Further he said the city would likely need more borrowed cash soon.

When will the financial madness in the city end?

Aldermen routinely split on votes over approving routine city payables. This practice is mostly because aldermen don’t trust the financial records provided to them, and they simply want to avoid the liability if the city winds up in some kind of financial hot water.

Much of this gets blamed on Holloway, but at some point the ones leading the city share some of the blame as well.

Knowing a huge financial problem exists and not doing everything in one’s power to fix it means the blame is a shared one.

Smith, at least, has a good excuse this week. She was trying to be a good citizen.

Three other aldermen who voted to borrow more money without fully understanding the reason just keep blindly kicking the can down the road.