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City to meet about future purchase of new fire truck

 

NATCHEZ — City leaders are expected to meet this morning to formally commit to purchasing a new fire truck so the city’s fire ratings will not fall, which would result in higher insurance premiums for property owners.

An 8:15 a.m. specially called meeting at the city council chambers is expected to focus on the city pledging to purchase a new truck to replace its outdated, 26-year-old ladder truck.

The city must present in writing its intent to purchase a fire truck soon or else the Mississippi State Rating Bureau will downgrade Natchez’s rating, said Mayor Darryl Grennell.

“If they do not get that piece of writing from me, they will change our rating from five to a six, which would devastate us,” Grennell said.

Ratings are on a scale of one to 10, with lower numbers representing better ratings. A city’s rating has an impact on insurance premiums for property owners, with worse ratings leading to higher costs.

Both Grennell and Natchez Fire Chief Aaron Wesley met with a member of the rating bureau Wednesday morning, and Grennell subsequently learned he would need to call a meeting to get Natchez aldermen on board with this pledge.

On Tuesday, city officials discussed certain mechanisms to buy a new aerial fire truck, such as possibly using a Mississippi Development Authority capital improvements loan or a Mississippi Department of Insurance grant program, both of which the city is currently exploring.

Regardless of how the city funds the truck’s purchase, today’s meeting is necessary to ensure the city keeps its rating, Grennell said.

Grennell said he hopes to improve the city’s rating to a four in the relatively near future and hopefully someday to a three or a two.

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