The contractor the city of Memphis and Shelby County partnered with for the recent tire redemption owes both governments tens of thousands of dollars. According to tax records, Refurban hasn’t paid its property taxes in two years.
Just last month, the Shelby County Commission approved giving the owner of Refurban $15,000 despite owning more than that to the county coffers.
When Refurban CEO Devin James appeared before the Shelby County Commission, not a single commissioner asked James about Refurban’s outstanding Shelby County tax bill.
According tax records, Refurban owes more than $42,000 Memphis and Shelby County for property taxes.
Despite the big bill, last month commissioners approved giving Refurban the grant to help start up his tire recycling company. In addition to the $15,000 the commissioners gave, the TN Department of Environment and Conservation is also matching $15,000.
“We’ve given them $15,000. They are going to get some equipment over there,” said Shelby County Commissioner Eddie Jones.
Jones says the county is also working to get Refurban a $250,000 grant to buy a tire shedder.
When asked if Refurban should get tax dollars when it owes tens of thousands in taxes?
Jones said, “you know what I’m going to say, as budget chair, is no.”
Jones said he had no idea the tax money was owed.
“I didn’t look deeply into that, but that’s why anytime anything goes out, it goes through finance and the county attorney’s office for approval. And if something like that threw up a red flag, that should bring it back to us,” he said.
Jones says he didn’t know Refurban is also facing a lawsuit.
The company took in 50,000 tires as part of Memphis/Shelby Counties tire redemption program in January. A lawsuit says the tires were dumped on land not owned by Refurban, and Refurban did not have permission to put it there.
A spokesperson for Shelby County says no money has been distributed to this entity. It is in the process of being vetted. Reburban’s lawyer didn’t have an explanation for why the tax bills haven’t been paid.