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Natchez board boosts funds for cemetery and animal shelter
from Staff Reports - NEWS
July 11, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen on Monday approved giving an extra $32,000 for maintaining the Natchez City Cemetery, two months after its managers said they’ve run out of money to maintain it.

The additional cemetery dollars are coming from funds Natchez gets from leasing city-owned riverfront property to Magnolia Bluffs Casino.

The board also agreed to allocate $5,000 to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society after being told Monday no money had been allocated to the private organization. The board normally gives the Humane Society $25,000 a year to help shelter stray animals, but it got omitted when aldermen last year passed the city budget for the current fiscal year that began in October.

Aldermen approved the additional funds for the cemetery and animal shelter as they revise the city’s $30 million budget for municipal services that were overbudgeted or underbudgeted for the fiscal year that ends in three months.

Mayor Darryl Grennell said more funds might be provided later to the Humane Society, but city officials “need to make sure we’ve got enough money to last us to the end of the fiscal year.”

City Hall the past few years has been plagued by overspending, cash shortages and sloppy bookkeeping that’s occasionally forced the Board of Aldermen to borrow money and tap into reserve funds just to pay bills and employees.

For the fiscal year that began last October, the board budgeted to spend $30.4 million, which includes about $13 million in tax revenues.

The Natchez Cemetery Association, which maintains the city-owned graveyard, reported in May its operations have a $88,000 budget deficit. The city board voted Monday to give the cemetery $32,000 to augment the $40,000 provided last September.

The cemetery this past year had expenses of about $258,000 but only about $170,000 in income, according to a Natchez Cemetery Association report presented to the board in May. About $200,000 of the costs is cemetery employee-related expenses, she said.

The association was charted in 1907 to maintain the cemetery. The 100-acre burial ground – established in 1822 – is one of Natchez’ most historic sites and largest tourist attractions.

To supplement funds from the city, the cemetery association generates revenues from selling grave plots and from raising private contributions. However, the income persistently falls short of expenses that include paying cemetery workers, grass-cutting, landscaping, structural repairs and other needs. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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