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Natchez aldermen borrowing money to buy fire truck and fill in revenue gap
from Staff Reports - NEWS
October 10, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The Board of Aldermen moved forward Tuesday on borrowing about $1 million to purchase a fire-ladder truck.

The one now used by the Natchez Fire Department is 26 years old and substandard. A new aerial truck is essential to ensure the city can adequately fight fires and restrain property insurance costs for Natchez homeowners, according to city officials.

The board agreed to borrow $750,000 from the Mississippi Development Authority and another $350,000 from Concordia Bank and Trust Co.

For the fire truck, aldermen plan to tap into an MDA fund that the state community development agency has to provide low-interest loans to cities and counties to upgrade public facilities and services, such as fire protection. That $750,000 would be combined with $350,000 from Concordia Bank to be borrowed at a 4.19 percent interest rate. The exact amount borrowed depends on the actual price of the fire truck yet to be purchased.

The board on Tuesday also approved borrowing $1 million from Concordia Bank to ensure the city has enough money to operate in the next few months until annual property tax payments come due early next year. The city is to pay the Vidalia-based bank back with 3.17 percent interest by the end of next March. The tax-anticipation loan is a routine method used by governments to temporarily fill revenue gaps when tax collections are in a lull.

Concordia and United Mississippi Bank of Natchez both provided loan proposals, but Concordia had the lowest interest rates.

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The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday also renewed the city’s agreement with the state to continue operating a Mississippi Welcome Center at the Natchez Visitor Reception Center.

Mayor Darryl Grennell said state officials were hesitant to maintain a presence at the facility since the city is transferring ownership of the structure to the National Park Service. However, the mayor said, state tourism division director Craig Ray has assured him that the state Welcome Center will remain at the city reception center, which is located by the Mississippi River bridges connecting visitors coming from Louisiana. Grennell did say city officials will continue trying to get Mississippi to provide more money to operate the center and provide security. State funds were recently cut out.

The National Park Service was authorized by Congress earlier this year to assume ownership of the Natchez Visitor Center, which the city has been wanting to discard from its property inventory because of the costs of maintaining the 21-year-old, 25,000-square-foot structure. It houses the offices of the city tourism agency and Natchez National Historical Park along with the Mississippi Welcome Center.

 




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