Hattiesburg tourism commissioners issue statement on state auditor's demand

Hattiesburg tourism commissioners issue statement on state auditor's demand
Six current and former members of the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission are responding to the Mississippi state auditor's demand for repayment of more than $400,000. (Photo source: WDAM)

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Six current and former members of the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission are responding to the Mississippi state auditor's demand for repayment of more than $400,000.

The statement says that demand arises from their approval of bonus and retroactive payroll payments made primarily to former executive director Rick Taylor from 2008 to 2013.

MS auditor claims some Hub City tourism commissioners misused taxpayer money

According to the auditor's report, that money was spent inappropriately. The statement from the commissioners said they were "misguided" by paid executive leadership to believe their decisions regarding bonus and payroll spending were legal.

In the statement, the commissioners said when those decisions were made, the commission did not seek outside legal advice. In 2016, the commission hired legal counsel "to ensure our internal operations are maintained at the highest standards."

The commission is now in a legal fight with its insurance company, United States Liability Insurance Company, to get the money to answer the auditor’s demands.

Hattiesburg Tourism Commission files complaint against its insurance company

Commissioners filed court documents on Aug. 21 claiming the insurance company breached its contract with the commission by denying coverage the commission was entitled to under its policy.

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