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Financing for fire truck approved by Natchez aldermen

 

NATCHEZ — Natchez could have a new state-of-the-art fire truck by Dec. 1, after aldermen approved financing of more than $1 million during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen.

During Tuesday’s meeting the board unanimously approved a $750,000 cap loan and a $350,000 conventional finance loan.

Interim City Clerk James Johnston said the funds would be used as needed to purchase a 100- to 107-foot stock truck rather than a custom truck.

“We will not draw on that (financing) until we need it,” Johnston said. “We’re just getting it in place.”

Interim Natchez Fire Chief Ventris Green said the city needs a state-of-the-art fire truck by Dec. 1 to keep the city’s fire rating at 5.

If the city does not get a new fire truck, the fire rating could go up to a 6, increasing residents’ fire insurance premiums. Fire ratings are based on a certification scale from 1, being the best to 10 being the worst.

Green said he is 100-percent confident the Dec. 1 deadline to get the truck will be reached.

Green said the new ladder truck would improve safety and provide new capabilities, such as thermal imaging cameras, a nozzle with a 180-degree reach, head phone sets, and a ladder with joy stick control.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the board:

  • Unanimously accepted a loan from Concordia Bank and Trust Company for a tax anticipation loan of $1 million.

Johnston said this a slow time of year for collecting property taxes and revenue from vehicle tags and the loan would be used to cover day-to-day expenses until property tax payments are received. The loan is set for repayment by March 31, 2019, Johnston said.

  • Unanimously approved up to $18,000 for matching funds that Johnston said the city is seeking in a grant to purchase 27 portable radios and seven mobile radios. Johnston said the radios would allow communication with first responders statewide in emergency situations.
  • Unanimously accepted an award of $3,836 for the purchase of bulletproof vests for the police department. Johnston said it is for a gradual replenishing of vests and vests for new officers. Johnston said the vests cost approximately $550.
  • Unanimously approved $10,788.89 for operation of the public pool. Alderman Dan Dillard, Ward 6, said the city should be careful not to expend beyond its commitment of $550,000 annually. Former YMCA of Natchez Operations Director Alice Agner said the pool would close for cooler weather, probably near the end of the month, and likely re-open in March or April. Agner, who recently announced plans to leave her position, also received a resolution of appreciation from Mayor Darryl Grennell.
  • Unanimously agreed to make a written apology to Benny A. Wright at his request. Wright said he was asked by city officials to allow an easement on his property on Bob Lee Williams Lane for a drainage project. Wright said he was not opposed to the easement, but that instead of providing written plans that he requested, the city began work without his approval.

“I’m not inclined to file a suit, but as a taxpayer I deserve better treatment,” Wright said. “I’m asking for a written apology and that no one else be treated in such a manner.”

  • Unanimously approved a recommendation from City Planner Ricardo Giani to waive permit and application fees for the construction of the New Zion Baptist Church. The church, located at 139 Homochito St., is building a new church building across the street from its current location.
  • Approved presenting a Paint Natchez Pink proclamation, along with a balloon release, on the steps of City Hall at 10 a.m. Friday for breast cancer awareness. Grennell said if just one woman were helped in fighting cancer it would be considered a success.
  • Met in executive session to discuss personnel in the fire department, police department and human resources. Aldermen also said they would discuss the potential sale of property and potential litigation. No action was taken in executive session.

Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis, Ward 1, said the board is getting closer to a decision on resolving the lingering suspension of Fire Chief Aaron Wesley, who was suspended with pay Aug. 24 by Grennell.

“We’re getting closer, but it’s with the lawyers right now,” Arceneaux-Mathis said.

All board members were present.

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