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City hasn’t gotten what it paid for with tourism consultant

The old adage, you get what you pay for, isn’t always true, particularly when the items being purchased aren’t tangible goods, but intangible services.

The City of Natchez is learning that painful lesson as city leaders try to figure out how in the world the city’s tourism wing wound up hiring a fundraising guru from Texas who is, as another old saying goes, all hat and no cattle.

Approximately one year after hiring Jennifer Barbee Inc. to raise funds for the Natchez Tricentennial Celebration in 2016, the funds have come up a tad short.

Despite Barbee’s initial projections that she’d have $4 million in the bank by the end of 2014, at the moment, she’s barely broken even over what the city has paid her and now suggests she will only achieve $500,000 by year’s end.

Sadly, the Natchez Convention and Promotion Commission, led by former director Connie Taunton, hired Barbee and agreed to pay her $180,000 in seed money. To date, Barbee appears to have barely covered her own costs, raising between $200,000 and $250,000.

That she was unable or unwilling to provide a reporter an exact figure is also troubling.

A small committee — including Natchez alderwoman Sarah Smith and interim NCPC director Creda Stewart — has been formed to keep a closer watch over Barbee’s work.

Such micromanagement of a professional shouldn’t be necessary.

The City of Natchez quickly needs to part ways with the company, cut its losses and regroup on 2016 fundraising efforts.