MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis is broke, but that isn't stopping those in charge from letting big money slip away. No one is pushing to collect the more than a million dollars owed for extra police patrols at special events.
Bosses at City Hall don't want you to know how bad the situation really is. ABC 24 News asked City Hall for this information eight months ago. They refused. Only after getting a nudge from Nashville did the city hand over the paperwork.
Teams are setting up for this weekend's Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Memphis in May is one of the biggest offenders for not paying for extra police patrols.
They're not the only ones.
From well known events like the St. Jude Marathon to the Liberty Bowl Parade, the list of who's not paying goes on and on.
In fact, the city is owed more than a million dollars for special event coverage that took place over the last 8 years.
Memphis City Councilman Jim Strickland, Charirman of the budget committee, said, "This is a concern because we're going through a rough budget time right now, and it's been proposed to close some libraries and shorten time at community centers and these figures, which average over $100,000 a year in bills, would help us."
Councilman Strickland says the bottom line, "If anyone agrees to pay for more police services before they have an event, and get the service, they ought to pay."
Which brings us back to Memphis in May. According to city records, it owes more than half a million dollars for police protection for the past 8 years.
Executive Director Dianne Hampton stated, "I haven't seen what you are talking about, but our police relations are good; I don't have any other comment other than that."
Hampton says Memphis in May has a $73 million annual economic impact to the city, which is huge compared to the half million owed.
"There is no doubt Memphis in May is a wonderful asset to the city and brings in a lot of money," Strickland said, "but on the other hand they ought to pay their bills; if they want extra police protection on the front end, they ought to pay for it."
No surprise, no one from City Hall wanted to talk about this. Why would they, truth is they didn't even want to turn over the documents.