Expense split shouldn’t be legal matter

Published 12:19am Friday, June 14, 2013

Before getting up from a restaurant table, most people decide who will pick up the ticket.

Are we splitting it, or is one person paying for the group?

It’s a relatively simple concept, but one that left the City of Natchez, its Convention Promotion Commission and the consulting group that manages the Natchez Convention Center at odds earlier this week.

The “ticket” in this case was a simple matter — who should pay for a new convention recruiter’s expenses.

The CPC, commonly referred to by its former acronym CVB, refused to approve payment of the expenses, claiming it was illegal for the city to pay such things since the woman works for New Orleans Hotel Consultants, the group contracted to manage the city’s convention center.

The New Orleans Hotel Consultants said it was their understanding that the CPC would pick up the tab.

The mayor said the whole thing was a misunderstanding, and now the city attorney plans to seek an official opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General’s office on the legality of whether or not the CPC can pay the expenses.

Whoa there. The question at this point shouldn’t be if it’s legal, but should the CPC pay the expenses even if doing so is legal.

Alderman Mark Fortenbery pegged the situation correctly at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.

“We gave the extra money to (the New Orleans Hotel Consultants’) contract to do whatever he wanted to do. Why is the city supporting this? We shouldn’t. This is his problem. We went up on his management fee, it’s up to him to manage it.”

Fortenbery is correct. The city increased the monthly fee it pays for managing the convention center to help pay for the convention recruiter. That should more than cover the check.