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City of Natchez agrees to finance police squad cars


NATCHEZ — Natchez officials agreed to finance seven police cars through two local banks for a total of nearly $183,000 during a special-called meeting Tuesday.

The purchase will allow the Natchez Police Department to rotate older vehicles out of its fleet.

In a Feb. 12 meeting, Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong told the Board of Aldermen his fleet was in dire need of swapping out older models with more than 100,000 miles on them and requested the board’s approval for purchasing four 2019 Dodge Charger patrol cars; however, Armstrong was told then that the purchase would need to wait until further review of the city’s budget.

Earlier this month, the board granted its approval for the purchase of three additional 2016 Dodge Chargers from Missouri with 50,000 miles on them and recently procured financing quotes for both the newer and older models.

Charles Crump, Natchez city clerk, said the four 2019 cars would be financed through Concordia Bank for $1,921.82 a month for 48 months, or a total cost of $92,247.36 paid over a period of four years.

The three 2016 models would be financed through United Mississippi Bank for $1,160.23 a month for 48 months, or a total cost of $55,691.04 over four years.

Crump, said outfitting the vehicles with decals and tags would also cost approximately $5,000 per unit.

Acceptance of the quotes passed the board of alderman on a vote of 4-0 Thursday, with Alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith recusing herself from the discussion because she is an employee at UMB.

In other matters during Tuesday’s special-called meeting with the Natchez Board of Aldermen, with Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier absent, the board:

  • Unanimously approved minutes for the regularly scheduled meeting of Feb. 12 and special-called meetings on Feb. 14 and Feb. 20.
  • Unanimously approved the mini docket and claims docket. In a discussion about the dockets, Alderman Dan Dillard questioned a $1,000 expense on the docket for advertising for a five-day LGBTQ event that Mayor Darryl Grennell said would take place in Natchez this summer. Though the organizers would host fundraisers to fund the event, Grennell said a $1,000 contribution had been made out of the mayor’s promotion account that would go toward advertising for the event in order to attract more visitors to Natchez.
  • Unanimously approved a depository bid from Home Bank for holding city funds. A second bid was provided by Concordia Bank and Trust. However, the board opted to retain its current accounts with Home Bank.
  • Approved the engagement of Booker Camper’s Certified Public Accounting firm for the reconciliation of the city’s accounts in preparation for the fiscal year 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 audits with Silas Simmons by a vote of 4-1, with Alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith voting “nay.” Grennell said the city is one year behind on its auditor’s reports, adding that the city is in the process of finalizing the 2016-2017 audit and would soon begin the 2017-2018 audit in June. Camper’s firm would prepare the city’s books and identify any errors that need to be reconciled with the city clerk’s office before turning the information over to Silas Simmons. The firm’s service would cost approximately $40,000 to $45,000 for 3-4 weeks of work, Camper said. Smith said the city should review all of its CPA options and explore the cost of each before agreeing to pay for one firm, and therefore voted against it.
  • Unanimously approved the appropriation of $5,000 from the community development fund — which consists of casino gaming revenue — for a free community event called “Harmony in the Park.” The city-sponsored event is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, on the Natchez bluff, and would include food vendors and a band to encourage unity and family-friendly fun, Grennell said.
  • The board entered into an executive session to discuss litigation involving the former Natchez General Hospital building and employee health claims through L S & Associates Insurance Consultants. After coming out of executive session, the board approved a motion to allow city attorney Robert Latham, to propose a payment method for the claims pending consultation with the insurance brokers by a vote of 4-1, with Smith voting against it. Smith said she does not agree with the city’s choice in insurance companies.