City administration changing how it handles appropriations to groups, organizations beginning with new fiscal year budget

Published 2:27 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Beginning with the budget for the new fiscal year, the City of Natchez is changing how it handles allocations to community groups and organizations.

A glimpse at the draft proposal for the new fiscal year budget shows missing allocations for a number of groups, including the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, Allumer Natchez and the Natchez Literary and Cinema celebration, to name a few.

That does not mean those groups will no longer benefit from taxpayer funding, city officials said Thursday morning.

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“We are trying to restructure appropriations to leave a clear audit trail as to where these funds are going,” said Megan McKenzie, Natchez city clerk.

“This administration from Day 1 said a fiscal renewal was our number one priority, making sure we have an adequate surplus of funds and making sure we are doing things by the letter,” said Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson.

He said after attending a number of conferences, workshops and continuing education classes, as well as talking to the state Attorney General, the city’s auditors and counterparts in other cities, he wants to make certain taxpayers know how their dollars are being spent and what they as citizens are getting in return.

“The intention is to continue to support the great work done by groups like the Humane Society, Hoofbeats and Pawprints Rescue and Spay/Neuter Natchez. To protect the city and those organizations, we will development an agreement that stipulates the services provided to the taxpayers of Natchez in return for those appropriation of funds,” Gibson said.

“We don’t want anyone to question why the city gave taxpayer dollars or have to wonder what did the city get for those dollars. We are looking at all appropriations that way,” he said. “And we are having more and more events and more organizations have formed and are reaching out to us every day because they want appropriations. We have had to get very strict on how we going about doing that.”

Gibson said the number one aim of taxpayer funding is to keep police and fire departments equipped, to keep the public works department equipped and up and running, to have a viable parks and recreation department and adequate transit department.

“We will continue to support events and organizations as we can through sponsorships and advertising when it is legal to do so in the eyes of the state auditor and attorney general, but we want it understood that tax dollars are for city services first and foremost. And we want clear accounting, where people don’t question why expenditures were made,” he said.