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Natchez right to delay spending on pool upgrade

The Natchez Board of Aldermen made the right decision Tuesday night when they voted to delay proceeding with improvements to the community swimming pool until they better understand the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said the city could be looking for nearly $2 million to replace lost revenue due to a drop in sales taxes in the city.

The city will also incur a huge loss in gaming revenue when the Mississippi Gaming Commission ordered casinos statewide to close in March.

“There are only so many places that we can cut,” Dillard said. “It’s going to be close for us to do everything we can to save everyone’s job.”

Proposed improvements include heating the pool, building a locker room and providing a cover for the pool. Originally the city and county agreed to pay more than $60,000 each to match a grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Now that number has risen to $84,000.

In our opinion, the swimming pool is a valuable asset to the community — one that provides recreational opportunities, especially to residents who would not have any access to a pool for swimming and other activities.

The proposed projects would help provide such recreational opportunities year round and should be pursued when the city better understands if it can afford to spend the money without jeopardizing jobs and city services.

Ward 3 Alderman Sarah Carter Smith said the board could reapply for the grant at a later time.

We agree and hope that city aldermen continue to review all of its expenditures in the face of what are certain to be significant losses in revenue.