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High turnover rate produces Natchez' fifth city clerk in three years
from Staff Reports - NEWS
October 9, 2019 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey
 
NATCHEZ, Miss. – A new city clerk will begin work Nov. 1 to replace Charles Crump, who abruptly quit last month. Servia Fortenberry was hired last week and will come to Natchez from McComb, where she's been city clerk and chief financial officer, said Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell.
 
Crump resigned last month after only seven months on the job as the fourth city clerk Natchez has had since the mayor and aldermen began their current four-year term in 2016. 
 
Crump failed to fulfill his duties as the city’s chief financial officer, said Alderman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis. He “made no suggestions to the board on financial matters during his tenure in office,” she said in a statement read at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.
 
Arceneaux-Mathis,  Natchez’ mayor-pro tempore, said Grennell and the board hired Crump knowing he had no experience as a city clerk. However, they were assured he would get training in municipal finances and work with Wallace Collins, the certified public accountant already contracted to help clean up the city’s financial records long in disarray and backlogged. Crump failed to follow through, she said.
 
“Once the Board of Aldermen attempted to correct this situation, we discovered that Mr. Crump did not want the city clerk staff to interact with (Collins),” said Arceneaux-Mathis, the board’s longest-serving alderman.
 
With Crump lagging in preparing a budget, she said, the mayor and Board of Aldermen had to bring in Collins to supervise the city budgeting process for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Crump resigned his City Hall post in late September after the $37  million budget was adopted by the Board of Aldermen.
 
In resigning, Crump reportedly said aldermen meddled too much in his office operations. Arceneaux-Mathis said they needed to. “Since the Board of Aldermen is ultimately responsible for all financial transactions of the city, adopts the budget and the audit, we have to be totally involved in the process,” she said.
 
Fortenberry takes the job as Natchez’ fifth city clerk – not including at least two interim clerks -- in the three years since aldermen converted the post to an appointed job rather than elected, as it had been the past century. The posted salary for the city clerk’s job had a range of $75,000 to $85,000 a year prior to Crump’s hiring in February.
 
The mayor and Board of Aldermen on Tuesday closed the public out of discussions about personnel in the city clerk’s office.
 
Among other actions taken Tuesday, aldermen increased the health insurance rate city employees pay for medical coverage. It goes from $8 a month to $32 for each employee. Employees pay more to cover their spouses and children. The city has about 190 employees. While this is four times higher than the old rate, it’s less than what the board originally considered. 



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