- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - It’s not clear which group in Natchez will have final say over how to spend $250,000 in annual payments a casino makes to the city.

It could be the elected aldermen. Or, it could be a new seven-member group that aldermen created this week, the Community Development Board.

Mayor Butch Brown serves on the new board, and he said the group will keep aldermen apprised of its spending decisions. However, the Natchez Democrat reported (https://bit.ly/YA0bGn ) that Brown stopped short of saying the Community Development Board would seek final approval from aldermen.

“We will work with the aldermen, but that is like adding six more people to the committee,” Brown said Wednesday.

When aldermen voted to form the seven-person Community Development Board on Tuesday, Alderman Dan Dillard said he thinks the group needs bylaws or operating rules because aldermen were giving the group some authority to make decisions about public money.

“The final ratification of expenditures of taxpayer moneys will have to come back to the elected board,” Dillard said.

The mayor was not present at the meeting when Dillard’s comments were made. Brown said Wednesday that the new group likely won’t need rules or bylaws because the casino’s lease agreement broadly outlines how the money can be spent.

“We will use the committee to work from that framework as to how we expend it,” Brown said.

The annual community development payments are included in Magnolia Bluffs Casino’s lease agreement with the city. The casino stipulated that it have a voting member on the new board, and aldermen appointed Magnolia Bluffs President Kevin Preston to that position.

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