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Salaries, contracts are $370,000 of CVB budget

NATCHEZ — With nine full-time and six contract employees and outside contracts for landscaping, advertising and other services, salaries and contracts for the Natchez Visitor Reception Center total approximately $370,000 annually.

Natchez Tourism Director Connie Taunton, whose salary is $55,600, oversees the operations of the visitors’ center, which involves managing staff, overseeing marketing and advertising and the overall operations of the center, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the office of tourism management.

The CVB also assists with events in Natchez, including the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, the Festival of Music, conventions and other happenings.

Taunton said not all of the employee positions are currently filled. She is working through applications for a director of sales at the CVB. Applications were due by April 27. The last director’s salary was $31,491.

Some of the employees that work at the visitors’ center are contract labor, including CVB media/film liaison Sally Durkin, whose is paid $2,500 a month, and bookkeeper Charles Burns Sr., who is paid $2,600 a month.

Durkin’s work includes distributing press releases for tourism events, creating itineraries and escorting travel writers around the city and giving tours to film scouts and producers among other duties.

Durkin has an office at the visitors’ center but does not pay rent. Taunton said the office is provided for Durkin for her services.

Other contract workers include four to six part-time employees that work in visitor reception, answer phones, sell tickets and provide other services.

The $140,000 budgeted for contracts includes contract employees, part-time employees and contracts for grass-cutting, landscaping and advertising services from Carol Ann Riley of Riley Creative.

Riley rents office space in the visitors’ center for $100 each month and is the CVB’s advertising agency of record.

That means, Taunton said, the CVB does not have to take bids for professional services for advertising. Riley creates and places ads the CVB decides to purchase, pays for the ads then bills the CVB, Taunton said.

Riley also helps maintain the CVB’s website and its marketing plan.

Riley’s compensation varies depending on what advertising and creative services work she does each year for the CVB, but Taunton said it averages approximately $30,000 annually.

Contract employees are not paid benefits, Taunton said. The CVB hires contract employees, Taunton said, because its work is seasonal and therefore not needed year round.

Contract employees are also free to work for other companies or individuals outside of the CVB, Taunton said.

Full-time employees include:

-Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture Museum Director Darrell White, whose salary is $27,997. Taunton said White also works in African-American tourism promotion and works with various groups to coordinate African-American heritage tours.

-Marketing Assistant Hannah Durkin, whose salary is $27,984. She handles the CVB’s social media marketing efforts, helps with the marketing plan and assists in other promotional efforts, Taunton said.

-Manager of tourist services Anna Byrne, who works in the visitors’ center in the logo shop, welcoming visitors and inputting visitor information into the CVB’s data system.

“Anna has also jumped in and helped me with a lot of things with the building and keeping it up,” Taunton said. “When you’re open 364 days a year, there’s continually something you have to do the building.”

Taunton said there is some overlap in job descriptions at the CVB because the staff works together on projects and employees help out where they are needed.

“We all work together as a team,” she said. “We don’t say, ‘That’s not my job,’ if something comes up. Whatever it is, we all make sure we handle it. It’s hard sometimes because we do a lot for the small staff we are.”