Committee handling new occupancy tax to present plan

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 29, 2008

NATCHEZ — The marketing committee handling the extra revenue produced by the $2 occupancy tax will have to present its plan for each fiscal year to the board of aldermen.

This committee has not yet been formed.

This is a way for the aldermen to get involved in the process of spending marketing dollars, Tourism Director Connie Taunton said.

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This does not mean that every time the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau is going to spend money on marketing it has to go before the aldermen.

“They want to be able to get involved and have an overview to look at the plan put in place,” Taunton said.

What the aldermen want to be able to do is make sure the marketing covers the entire area of Natchez, Mayor Phillip West said.

West said some aldermen were concerned that only particular businesses or parts of the community would be marketed.

“I presume they would want to look and make sure they feel like we’re marketing all of our tourism assets and that we’re not, for instance, marketing just the antebellum homes,” Taunton said.

Black history activist Sers Seshs Ab Heter-C.M. Boxley brought up this point during the special meeting called to discuss the tax last week.

He wanted to make sure that all of Natchez was promoted, including the Forks of the Road and the National Association for the Preservation of African-American Culture museum.

West said if the aldermen felt the plan did not market the city equally, they would be able to send it back to the marketing committee for revision.

The marketing committee will be formed by the aldermen and the Convention and Visitors Bureau

Besides coming up with marketing plans, the committee will most likely want to look for an advertising agency for the city, she said.

“There’s a lot of work to be done before you jump out there are start spending the money,” Taunton said.

She said if the proposed tax is passed by legislation, it wouldn’t go into effect until June and then the city couldn’t start collecting it until two months later.

A plan will most likely be drawn up and ready to be put in place by the first of the fiscal year, which is Oct. 1, Taunton said.