• 73°

City plans to hire students to work part-time for public works this summer

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen on Tuesday agreed to hire students over the summer to work part-time for Natchez Public Works.

During a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, Natchez Public Works Director Justin Dollar said his department had traditionally utilized inmate labor from Woodville for tasks such as grass and weed cutting and maintaining flowerbeds but hasn’t been able to use inmates since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In last month’s meeting, city officials voted to place a hiring freeze on all departments except Natchez Police and Fire Departments as well as avoid any unnecessary travel, contracts or purchases until they have a clearer view of how the pandemic will impact the city’s budget.

As a result, Dollar said his department had been short-handed.

“We don’t have a definite answer on when we can start using inmates again,” Dollar said in Tuesday’s meeting.

Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis made a motion to hire up to 10 student workers or $30,000 in payroll so students who are out of school for the summer could provide the extra help needed.

Mathis said the student workers would replace the cost of hiring only one full-time employee. Her motion passed unanimously.

In other matters during Tuesday’s meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the board:

  • Voted unanimously to terminate one employee and gave leave without pay to another employee — both in the Natchez Public Works department — after discussing personnel matters in executive session. No more information was provided on the termination and the board is not required to provide such information on personnel matters under state law.
  • Unanimously approved advertising for a general contractor for improvements to the Natchez Aquatics Center. The project includes heating and covering the pool near Natchez High School and installing lockers and showers for swim teams. Half of the improvements are paid for by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Land and Water Conservation Fund program with the City of Natchez and Adams County each putting up approximately $70,000 for the project.
  • Unanimously moved $25,000 from the travel budget to be used to pay poll workers for the City of Natchez municipal election.