City violence, finances need attention

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016

With just more than three weeks until Natchez’s ultimate Tricentennial celebration, we cannot help but wonder if leaders are taking a cue from Nero and fiddling while Natchez burns.

Much debate has gone into the Natchez Board of Aldermen’s split vote on selecting a city attorney. We agree the decision was hasty and does not appear to be in the city’s best interest.

But the City of Natchez also has two far more pressing matters with which to deal — the city financial woes and what would appear to be a rising violent crime spree.

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The city’s budget problems are years in the making. City leaders have blamed the problems on all sorts of things including the death of a key employee at the city clerk’s office, a new computer system and a revolving door at the city clerk’s office.

While all of those factors have caused portions of the problem, the ultimate problem is that aldermen continued approving budgets and spending money that they were not certain existed. During the last administration, aldermen suddenly seemed surprised when they realized that all of the many grants for which they had applied required cash matching funds — few, if any of which, were budgeted.

The city must get its hands around its revenues and expenses and reduce expenses until they are well below known revenues.

The rash of senseless violence our community has experienced is, perhaps, more troubling than any other problems.

Eight shootings occurred in the last three weeks here. While most appear to be related to domestic disputes instead of random violence, clearly our community has a problem.

We must, as a community, decide that someone who shoots another is completely unacceptable and convince juries and judges to throw the book at them. For juvenile offenders found guilty, their parents must also be held accountable.

Natchez has great reason to celebrate our 300th year of existence, but we must focus, as a community, on the most critical problems first. If we don’t, Natchez may not survive another 300 years.