City needs better fiscal discipline

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2017

The City of Natchez must change its focus — likely for a few years — to be in a position to have the city thrive again.

Despite the hard work of former Mayor Jake Middleton’s administration to secure a hefty lease of city property to a casino which drops a minimum of $1.2 million into the city’s bank account each year, the city’s leadership since has done a poor job of making anything of the windfall.

The latest case in point, the city is considering applying for a grant that would bring just less than $1 million to be used to repair and improve city sidewalks, road ways and other areas in downtown.

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The catch is the local match is just less than $300,000, and the city really cannot afford to spend that amount.

Normally, if someone said, if you’ll give me $1, I’ll give you $3, you’d be thrilled by the surplus.

But in the City of Natchez’s case the financial record keeping and poor fiscal management has effectively crippled the city for at least a period. Year after year the city must borrow money — and thus squander taxpayer money on the interest due — at the end of the year just to get by.

The city’s financial situation leaves it in a position in which it cannot adequately pay and equip police and fire personnel.

So suddenly seeking another $300,000 for a grant match that would normally be a no-brainer becomes far more troublesome for city leaders.

The city desperately needs better fiscal discipline to reduce expenses and create a rainy day fund to cover this and similar needs that periodically arise.