NATCHEZ — A majority of the city’s board of aldermen voted on Friday to approve a study to determine the feasibility of annexing the Broadmoor and LaGrange areas of the county north of Natchez and the area through the Beau Pre subdivision into the city. the county south of the city.
Former mayors Tony Byrne and Philip West, representing the seven living former mayors of Natchez, attended a town meeting and suggested to the mayor and aldermen that the time had come to increase the geographic size of the town.
“Natchez’s population has deteriorated from its 1960 peak of 23,792 to an estimated 2021 population of 14,178. Natchez is now the 29th largest city in Mississippi,” Byrne told aldermen Jan. 25. “Since 2000, we have lost 20.4% of the population. Ninety-eight percent of cities our size in the United States have grown. We haven’t grown. If you don’t grow, you die.
Byrne acknowledged that a number of county residents would not want to be annexed into the city.
“But they use our facilities and I think they need to be part of Natchez,” he said at the Jan. 25 meeting.
At Friday’s meeting, Frazier said the feasibility study was needed now.
“For me, it is imperative that we do this. It’s planning for Natchez’s future,” Frazier said.
Gibson said the feedback he’s received since the mayors made the January 25 annexation suggestion has been negative.
“I haven’t received any positive results for annexation,” he said. “I have been mayor for a year and a half and we have faced many challenges with our budget. We need to ensure that we can provide services to our current citizens. »
Alderman Valencia Hall moved a motion to table Frazier’s motion for the annexation study, but she died for lack of a second. Alderman Sarah Carter Smith, who usually votes with Hall, was attending the meeting virtually by phone and internet, but lost her connection to the meeting.
When Smith’s connection was restored, Hall again made his motion and Smith seconded it. However, Alderman Frazier, Ben Davis, Dan Dillard and Alderman Felicia Bridgewater-Irving voted against and it failed.
Alderman Dan Dillard argued that Frazier’s motion simply called for a study into the feasibility of annexation.
“We extend our fire protection to all of Adams County and receive less than $700,000 a year from the county for it. At some point, the services we provide to our citizens will be diminished because of this,” Dillard said.
Frazier’s motion for a study was approved by a vote of four to two, with Hall and Smith voting no.
In other matters of the city, the council:
• Heard an update from Tommie Cardin of the law firm Butler Snow, who has been hired by the city to oversee the redistricting. Cardin said the redistricting process typically takes four to six months.
Cardin said he would interview each alderman individually to discuss the characteristics of each ward. After that, he said his company would create one or more draft plans, which would be presented to citizens at a public hearing, likely in July, for citizen feedback.
After this public hearing, the council could then adopt a redistricting plan.
Redistricting is necessary when the population of a neighborhood has changed by more than 10%, either increasing or decreasing. According to the 2020 census, wards 1, 2 and 5 lost population while wards 3 and 6 gained population. Ward 4, he said, was “right on the money,” but his lines are likely to change to do the other wards right.
• Heard City Attorney Bryan Calloway withdraw discussion of an amended lease agreement for the City Cliff depot. Calloway said he wanted to enter into the original lease with the proposed changes in the agreement. He said he would talk about it at a later meeting.
Gibson said work is continuing behind the scenes on Project Depot, even though its developers have faced the same delays as many others due to the COVID pandemic.