City aldermen vote to fund Jackson sales manager for convention center

Published 12:04am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

NATCHEZ — Without an agreed upon funding plan, the Natchez Board of Aldermen voted 4-2 Tuesday night to help fund a new tourism position in Jackson to market the city.

The board voted to increase its monthly management fee to the New Orleans Hotel Consultants from $20,000 to $24,000 at the request of the company’s president, Warren Reuther.

The fee increase will fund the salary of Angela V. Weathersby, formerly events and continuing education coordinator for the Mississippi Nurses Association, as a regional convention and sales manager. The Natchez Convention Center will be Weathersby’s employer.

New Orleans Hotel Consultants currently manages the convention center, city auditorium and community center.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith and Ward 5 Mark Fortenbery voted against the motion and voiced concerns during the city’s finance committee meeting prior to the Tuesday regular meeting about voting to increase the fee without determining how they city is going to pay for it.

Mayor Butch Brown previously said Weathersby’s salary could be paid for using the up to $82,000 variable management fee the city recently removed from its agreement with the CVB. The funds must be used to market Natchez, and that would be Weathersby’s job, Brown has said.

Brown said after Tuesday’s meeting that the money would come from the variable management fee or the general fund.

Weathersby’s salary would be $48,000 annually. The convention center would provide benefits, and the CVB would cover travel expenses.

Weathersby has said office space is available in the Southern Administrators Building in Ridgeland for $385 per month, which would be paid by the convention center.

Weathersby’s job would be to aggressively recruit conventions and meetings that originate in Jackson, Reuther said. She would also develop working relationships with corporate and association meeting planners and maintain high visibility in the planning community.

Smith and Fortenbery said they did not oppose Weathersby’s position, but did not like voting on it without a funding source outlined.

Fortenbery also voiced concerns to Reuther during the finance meeting about whether other hotels in Natchez besides the Natchez Grand Hotel would benefit from Weathersby’s recruitment of conventions to Natchez. Reuther’s company owns the Grand Hotel.

Reuther told Fortenbery that the convention center could not bring hundreds of people into town for multi-day conventions without the room capacity support of hotels other than the Grand.

“The average meeting is over 500 rooms,” Reuther said. “I only have 119… I wouldn’t be here if I only represented my hotel. But in order for the convention center to success, you have to have that anchor hotel.”

Reuther also noted that four hotels — a $46 million investment — have been built in Natchez because of demand since the convention center was built.

“And more are coming,” he said.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard made the motion to increase the management fee to help fund Weathersby’s salary, noting the growth and possible expansion of the convention center, as well as the center’s economic impact on Natchez.

In other news from the meeting:

-The board voted to allow Community Development Director James Johnston to apply for a $35,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Urban Youth Corps Program to hire five college-age individuals to work with Natchez Public Works from May 27 until Aug. 2.

The city is required to provide a 20-percent match, but that will be supplied through in-kind life skills training, equipment usage and staff time, Johnston said.

The youth will be working every day outside, Johnston said, doing landscaping and other work.

-The board approved a supplemental order in the amount of $35,000 for the North Natchez Drainage Project at the request of City Engineer David Gardner. The order is to add a 30-inch pipe to a section of the project to increase storm water drainage capacity.

The $35,000 will increase the construction cost of the project, but it will not affect the overall project cost, Gardner said, because the project budget has the funds to cover it.

 

 

  • Anonymous

    I stopped by the MS welcome center south of McComb yesterday. Among all the brochures for almost every city in MS was one for the Grand Village. Natchez was absent otherwise, wonder what it would cost to print a few brochures – probably less than hiring Jacksonians.

  • Anonymous

    Not too happy with this. Fortenberry and Smith; good going. Keep asking questions and watch out for our dough. I am very wary of this “management” from New Orleans running 3 entities here. Be cautious. And ALWAYS look to strike the BEST deal for Natchez.

  • Anonymous

    Boondoggle

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Its a bad thing when the BOA want stand up to Brown and say NO when needed but from this hiring the city must be in piles of money!!! Doing what a hotel man say leading Brown with a ring in his nose makes me feel sorry for the city taxpayers and they want the county to pay more money toward recreation-ARE YOU CRAZY!!!!!!! We aren’t getting on this bus ride!!!! Again, this administration isn’t a mystery for the city taxpayers better get ready for a expensive tax ride!!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Whats so good?? They voted for it so they are just as bad as Brown for it the way I see it huh’??!!

  • Anonymous

    khakirat -
    The county doesn’t pay any money towards recreation ?
    I suggest you keep your nose in the county !
    If the county ever builds two fire stations with equipment and resident fire fighters I’ll eat my hat !

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    The county paid $90,508.58 to recreation as per the ND makes you statement false !! As for as keeping my nose in the county I feel my family has paid our dues from all the past city taxes paid to the city of Natchez from businesses and residents I’m still classed as a Natchezian!! I’d place a bet with you that haven’t paid a tenth of the city taxes we have paid!! And do you want salt and pepper when you eat your hat when we get our two firestations??!! Keep barking at the car wheel!!

  • Anonymous

    khakirat -
    The county spent $90,508.58 on county parks not recreation !
    Half of that was was listed as miscellaneous or in kind services.
    The county doesn’t even maintain the only recreation facility it has,
    i.e. Liberty Park. It’s a waste land !
    The non-public school volunteers keep up baseball field not the county !
    The county did build some toilets under the beachers just recently
    but they put men’s urinal right in front of the door !
    So when you open the door everyone’s looking at the urinal !
    Or at the person using it a the time !

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    City needs to take back the 3 entities for the way its being done is to expensive with no accomplishments !!!!! Our locals have got talents than to go out of town don’t sound to clear!!!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Now I like that!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    You better be thankful for what you got from the county this isn’t any thing different than they did years ago for the fathers and the coaches took care of the field!! As far as the toilets and etc they did the same nothing different!! The county takes care of the field in Kingstown, Broadmoor, Pinemount,Lagrange, and Providence, Chester Willie Field, Adams County Equine Center and The county is doing there thing!!! The city needs to accept they have been beat by the Vidalia rec. complex and let the natchez folks do what they want by taking there kids to Vidalia to play ball or Natchez!! The City of Natchez needs to do their own thing and not ask nothing from the county!!