Maybe state auditor is best solution

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2016

Natchez city aldermen, clearly uncomfortable delving into a hot potato issue in the middle of election season, politely punted Tuesday.

The ongoing saga of the Natchez Convention Promotion Commission and its questions about the city’s top tourism leader will now reach the offices of the state auditor.

While much of the discussion and debate has gone on behind closed doors, clearly, at best, a breakdown of communication has occurred between Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Kevin Kirby and the NCPC board that provides direction on CVB operations.

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That breakdown may have spiraled out of control or, as NCPC members suggest, spending may have been done without prior authority of the commission. Whether or not the commission had to sign off on everything Kirby did is unclear, in part because the contract the city has with the NCPC was allowed to expire so the whole entity has been operating in limbo for quite a while.

What is clear, however, is that Natchez doesn’t need this mess in the middle of what was supposed to be its finest hours — the celebration of the city’s tricentennial.

Instead, this looming cloud lingers over Kirby, the CVB and the NCPC.

Perhaps the aldermen were correct in seeking an outside perspective on the matter.

An investigator with the state auditor’s office should certainly not come at the matter with a bias that, apparently, aldermen are incapable of shaking. We suggest as much since aldermen initially planned to investigate the matter and rule on it themselves. Now, despite spending hours investigating this, city leaders cannot seem to agree on a plan of action.

If it takes the state auditor’s office working on this, so be it. Natchez simply deserves to get over this mess and the divisions it has caused and get back into the tourism business with all sides pulling in the same direction.