City considers pulling Natchez, Inc. funding

Published 10:32 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019


NATCHEZ — The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen are considering pulling funding from Natchez, Inc. and redirecting those funds to the newly formed non-profit Film Natchez.

During Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting, the board of aldermen voted 5-1 to direct city attorney Bob Latham to determine whether the economic development funds supplied to Natchez Inc. could be redirected to Film Natchez during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting.

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Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis made the motion authorizing City Attorney Bob Latham to research whether the shift could be legally done and the motion passed with Alderwoman Sarah Carter-Smith casting the lone “nay” vote.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said the city levees approximately $90,000 to $100,000 each year from a tax millage for Natchez, Inc., which is the economic development authority for both Natchez and Adams County.

“I don’t think it can be done,” Grennell said after Tuesday’s meeting. “Legislation created Natchez, Inc. In that legislation, it talks about the funding mechanism — it talks about a millage from the city to fund it, and it talks about a millage from the county to fund it. I don’t think you can take the millage that has been legislatively created and use for another entity other than the one it was intended for.”

Representatives of Film Natchez — a group that aims to drive the local film industry forward — requested a $200,000 yearly allocation, which could be split into quarterly payments if necessary, from the city during a September board meeting.

Arceneaux-Mathis said the board did not have an extra $200,000 to allocate for economic development in the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, which began Oct. 1, and suggested using the funding for Natchez, Inc. to fund Film Natchez instead.

Chandler Russ, executive director of Natchez, Inc., said Natchez, Inc. is a strong supporter of the local film industry and would consider using Natchez, Inc. as a vehicle for funding another revenue-generating partner like Film Natchez but not at the expense of their operating budget.

“We’re extremely supportive of Film Natchez, but not at the expense of our operations,” Russ said. “… We’ve discussed adding additional funding to have it flow through Natchez, Inc. as the economic development authority to Film Natchez. We’re supportive of Film Natchez and any increase in funding they may consider for us to be the vehicle to fund Film Natchez.”