City and county officials need to get issues resolved quickly

Published 11:57 pm Sunday, May 12, 2024

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The leaders of government in the city and the county have a lot of work to do, and constituents are ready for them to get to work and get it done.

Lives hang in the balance.

For many years, Adams County has contracted with the City of Natchez for fire protection services. For several years, the late Dan Dillard, who sat on the city’s board of aldermen until his death in March 2023, advocated for the city to ask for more money for those fire services. Dillard was a numbers guy, and he said the city was subsidizing fire protection for those who live in the county.

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Some county supervisors think some fires should be rated differently than others, and the city should not receive as much money for responding to them. For instance, those supervisors say a grass fire or a car fire should not be rated differently in terms of cost to the county than a structure fire.

However, the city is still obligated to respond to and man those fires in the county. And we all know how quickly a car fire and a house fire could turn into something more.

At the same time, the original contract between the city and county called for the city to work side by side with the county’s volunteer firefighters. Fire Chief Robert Arrington said volunteers responding to fires in the county have fallen in number through the years.

Regardless, the voters of Natchez and Adams County have elected our mayor and aldermen and supervisors to do this work, and they need to come together and get a new contract agreed upon post haste.

At the same time, E-911 dispatchers have been stuck in a moldy, damp basement of the Adams County Jail while the county and city have been unable to come to agreement going forward about where dispatchers should be located and how much each should pay toward those services. That battle has been going on for at least two years.

And, that community swimming pool … we need not say more.


Fire protection for the county and dispatch services for the city are areas the city and county have cooperated for a number of years and have worked well. It would behoove the county to continue fire service contracting with the city. Same for the city with dispatch. It would cost Adams County much more money annually to build county fire stations, hire full-time firefighters and install water towers and hydrant systems than to simply continue working with the city.

The city would need to purchase duplicate equipment and hire as many as 10 new employees to set up its own dispatch operation. And no doubt that would deteriorate the communication thus cooperation we enjoy right now between the sheriff’s office and the city’s police department.

This kind of prolonged stalemate adds much legitimacy to the call for combined city and county government. County and city leaders should be looking for more ways to work together and save taxpayers money, rather than protecting fiefdoms and costing taxpayers even more for duplicated services.

Perhaps all of the talk about how well the city and county is working together is just that — talk.

City and county officials, sit down at a table soon and get this resolved, please, for the sake of the people you were elected to serve.