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Adams County board reviews possible fire station sites
from Staff Reports - NEWS
July 3, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – Adams County Board supervisors are reviewing potential sites for building fire stations outside Natchez to better serve residents living outside the city and to reduce their house insurance costs.

Possible locations include sites on U.S. 61 north and south of Natchez.

The county board on Monday viewed maps of four suggested spots strategically located close to where the county’s larger concentrations of residences are.

With about 7,400 addresses on Adams County’s official list, the prospective fire-station sites would be within five miles from about 3,700 to 5,000 addresses, said Peter Dale, Adams County’s geographic information systems mapping coordinator. He said he plotted out locations so firefighters could provide the fastest, most efficient service to a maximum number of people.

Potential sites include the old Washington school property on U.S. 61 north and a location near the Beau Pre residential subdivision south of Natchez.

No final decisions are imminent as county supervisors still have to determine where fire stations would be, how many to build, how many staffers would be needed and how they would be funded. “We’re going to continue to look at it,” said county board President Calvin Butler.

The Adams County Board of Supervisors currently pays Natchez about $700,000 a year for the city fire department to respond to calls out in the county. Natchez firefighters are augmented by volunteer firemen who man trucks and fire equipment housed at four county fire stations.
County supervisors have been discussing with city officials for several years building new fire stations fully staffed outside the city to ensure more fire protection. This should reduce insurance premiums property owners must pay.

However, county fire coordinator Darryl Smith said it would be costly and difficult to man the two or three fire stations being discussed with full-time fire fighters. He noted the Natchez Fire Department struggles to fully staff its municipal fire stations because of low pay and lack of recruits.

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A report presented Monday to Adams County supervisors shows the overall value of taxable properties in Adams County has grown little since last year and won’t generate much additional revenues for county supervisors to spend in the next fiscal year. This is an indication of sluggish industrial or commercial growth and residential developments in Natchez-Adams County.

Adams County taxpayers this month can visit the tax assessor’s office to see the value of their properties that determines how much they must pay in taxes for the coming year. They can request changes if they believe the higher assessment is incorrect. Any objections to assessments will be heard by the county Board of Supervisors in August.

The county last year reappraised houses, commercial structures and other land holdings, which resulted in increased values and higher property taxes. The increased valuations generated an extra $631,000 or so for the county Board of Supervisors to put into its 2018 budget for county services and programs.

However, the 2019 land values aren’t expected to bring much more tax revenue for the board to budget for the fiscal year that starts in October. The current year’s budget is about $28 million.

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The Adams County Board of Supervisors is considering a request to help fund plans to revitalize downtown Natchez.

Mayor Darryl Grennell and others urged the county board Monday to put up at least $25,000 in the coming year to combine with what the Natchez Board of Aldermen provides to create a downtown development association and hire a director to lead it. The group’s annual budget is to be $80,000 to $120,000.

This would put into motion the implementation of a comprehensive plan Natchez aldermen approved in May to enhance downtown Natchez’s appearance and its commercial and cultural offerings, said FOR Natchez leader Chesney Doyle.

She said the new downtown Natchez association would take the “Main Street Approach,” which gets downtown stakeholders to collaborate in promoting commerce, enhancing buildings and expanding the town’s overall economic base.

Natchez’ new master plan was conceived by a Nashville consulting group. Successfully implementing the concepts will require money spent over time by aggressive business entrepreneurs, innovative city government leaders and meticulous historic preservationists. FOR Natchez, a private group led by Doyle, spearheaded the drafting of the plan.




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