Natchez rec funding hits a snag
Two weeks ago, we wrote a story that took a look at a few Mississippi towns that were either making plans or had firmed up plans to build multi-use recreational complexes.
Natchez was one of them, and there is news to pass along.
The Natchez-Adams Recreation Commission had gotten financial commitments from the city, county and the school board to help fund the planning costs of the complex. Each entity had promised to give $11,000 toward the effort.
The city and the county money encountered no trouble on its way to the Recreation Commission’s bank account. The school board’s cash has.
State law does not allow for a school board to spend money outside of its school district. Apparently, the site of the recreation complex sits outside of the Natchez-Adams School District’s lines. But there is a provision in that statute that allows school boards to provide for and regulate athletic activities. The school board is currently seeking an AG’s opinion on whether the recreation complex meets that definition.
Recreation Commission chairman Tate Hodby, who we spoke to for the story we wrote, told the school board in a letter that the Commission would have no problem designating the board’s $11,000 for improvements in facilities and equipment within the district’s boundaries. So while it doesn’t seem that the funding is in serious jeopardy, this is an issue that will have to be cleared up before any money exchanges hands.
Staying in Natchez, this week’s MBJ includes a story about Chandler Russ, who is leaving the MDA to take the director’s job of Natchez Inc., the new economic development agency for Natchez and Adams County. The old Natchez-Adams Economic Development Authority had a rough couple years before it was finally dissolved. The Adams County Board of Supervisors pulled its funding in March 2009, right in the middle of the fiscal year, before restoring it after an AG’s opinion ruled that it was illegal to pull an agency’s funding before the end of a fiscal year.
Now comes news from Booneville, where city officials voted to stop funding the Booneville Area Chamber of Commerce for the 2010-2011 budget year. The city was contributing $3,780 per month to the Chamber. The city will provide free office space and utilities to the Chamber.
A lot of chambers and economic development agencies across the state are having to rely more than they’d like on private money, as the recession squeezes city and county budgets. Most experts in the field agree that public-private partnerships work best for funding and operating chambers and EDAs. Looks like Booneville’s, for the time being at least, will have to lean heavily on the private side to survive.