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City-county consolidation stirs up for public discussion
from Staff Reports - NEWS
May 21, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – It’s uncertain if Adams County supervisors will adopt Natchez attorney Paul Benoist’s proposal to let voters say in November whether they support dissolving the city’s government and empowering the county board to take over.

Benoist met Monday with the Board of Supervisors to discuss putting the nonbinding resolution on the November ballot. While some of the five county supervisors expressed qualms about such a proposition, board President Calvin Butler said he’s got an open mind.

He noted this evening’s forum about consolidating city and county governments will enlighten him and others about the issue.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and the Board of Aldermen are sponsoring the forum. It’ll have experts discussing the pros and cons of the city and county merging the delivery of public services, such as garbage collection and law enforcement, as well as the full consolidation of the city and the county.

A city-sponsored forum was also held two weeks ago on the various forms of city government in Mississippi and other states.

Tuesday’s meeting will begin 5 p.m. at the Natchez Convention Center. Grennell said the forum is to educate Natchez-Adams County residents so they can decide if they want a different form of government.

The forums’ themes asks these questions for Natchez and Adams County: “Is it time for a change? Can we work smarter together? Could changing our form of city government improve efficiency? Could merging city and county services save tax dollars?

Benoist said Natchez’ mayor-aldermen form of government is so dysfunctional it should be dissolved by the state Legislature so the county Board of Supervisors can govern the city. The proposition he wants on the ballot would basically be a poll to let voters express their opinions on the question of consolidating all local government functions by repealing the city charter and transferring municipal powers, duties and functions to the Adams County board. The referendum results could be the impetus for the Legislature to act.

Today’s forum is being presented by the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. The main speakers are two experts on annexation, consolidation, intergovernmental relations and service delivery from the Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

 




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