Hattiesburg Convention Center Director lobbying for 267k salary - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Hattiesburg Convention Center Director lobbying for 267k salary

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Hattiesburg Convention Center Executive Director Rick Taylor is lobbying for a new salary of $267k a year. Source: WDAM Hattiesburg Convention Center Executive Director Rick Taylor is lobbying for a new salary of $267k a year. Source: WDAM
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

The Executive Director of the Hattiesburg Convention and Tourism Commission, Rick Taylor, is actively lobbying for an increased base salary of $267k, which would be funded by taxpayers.

MOBILE USERS: View the emails here. 

Emails obtained through public records request by On Your Side reveal Taylor is soliciting for a 12 percent gross compensation increase to bring his base salary to $267,012.  That increase would go into effect this October.

In an email sent on 7/7/16 from Taylor to Convention Commission Board Member Bud Kirkpatrick, Taylor writes:

“We discussed the date of my last review and compensation adjustment (August 2013) and that the Commissions would like to get this process in order and moving on a more regular time frame. You suggested to propose to the Joint Management Personnel Review Committee a compensation increase of 12% from the gross compensation of 2013 ($238,404) to become effective this October at the start of FY2017. That would address the three year hiatus and create a baseline salary of $267,012 from which to start in future years"

Taylor acknowledged in the email that his previous $30k bonus should be tied to “pre-stated” objectives and that their current practice may violate state law if it continues.

 “Recently, it has come to my attention and that of Carey Varnado, our legal counsel, that the Attorney General has issued more recent opinions that such payments should be tied to pre-stated objectives.” Taylor states. “Therefore, it is my recommendation that we discontinue this practice in light of this new information." 

As On Your Side has reported, the Hattiesburg Tourism Board has previously awarded Taylor's 30k bonus based off of a gut-call rather then pre-stated objectives.  

A $267k salary would be considerably higher then Taylor's counterpart on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In a 2015 interview, Bill Holmes, Executive Director of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center told On Your Side that his salary was $140k. 

Holmes retired last August.  

The next tourism commission board meeting is scheduled for August 24 at the Lake Terrace Convention Center.

In a statement released Wednesday night, Hattiesburg Convention Commission Chairman, Andy Stetelman said Taylor's current salary is "appropriate" 

"We carefully work with our commissions to determine appropriate salary levels for our executive director," Stetelman said.

You can read Stetelman's full statement below.

“Under Rick Taylor’s leadership, Hattiesburg’s tourism sector has experienced tremendous and consistent growth for the last twenty years. Rick is goal-oriented and highly-motivated in growing Hattiesburg, and his efforts have helped produce a positive return on taxpayers’ investments year after year.

As executive director, Rick leads more than 140 team members across six venues for the commissions. In addition to Lake Terrace Convention Center, Rick is responsible for growing operations at Hattiesburg Zoo, African American Military History Museum, Historic Saenger Theater, Hattiesburg Visitors Center, and Eureka School Museum.

In 2015, Hattiesburg visitors spent $268 million in our local economy, which is more than a 3% increase from 2014. That’s also more annual visitor spending than ever before, illustrating our strategies are producing excellent results.

Our collective boards want to see this growth continue. We have long-range plans for continued attraction development and local economic growth. We’ve diligently researched appropriate salary ranges for executive directors of publicly operated venues comparable to those that Rick oversees. We carefully work with our commissions to determine appropriate salary levels for our executive director. In addition, Rick was not present in any of our executive sessions or personnel committee meetings where his salary or compensation package was discussed and determined.

While some may be down on Hattiesburg, we are up. It is our home. Our passion. Our commitment.”

Andy Stetelman

Chairman
Hattiesburg Convention Commission 

Copyright WDAM 2016. All rights reserved. 

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