Proposal would hand MSARC over to county - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Proposal would hand MSARC over to county

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WC-TV) - A proposal for Shelby County to take over the embattled Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center is in the works.
    
The plan comes amid claims of mismanagement, staffing shortages and financial inconsistencies.

Shelby County Commissioner Mike Carpenter is drawing up a proposal for the county to take over the center, but numerous obstacles lie ahead.

He says it's important to recognize MSARC is regional.

"We have gone to a lot of lengths lately to put those things that are regional in nature under the county's umbrella, and those things that are municipal in nature under the municipalities," said Carpenter.

On Wednesday, a commission committee will consider his resolution.
  
"We can hopefully bring it under our umbrella without any additional cost to taxpayers," said Carpenter.

But after the committee votes, the full county commission, the city council and Mayor Willie Herenton would all have to approve the resolution.

"I do believe that if Mayor Herenton is saying that he wants that opportunity to try and fix it, then he should be given that opportunity," said commission chair Deidre Malone.

She says the county should only take on MSARC if city leaders want it to happen.
    
And there are many other considerations. For example, county residency rules say nurses employed by MSARC would be required to live in the county.

"That is something that we should probably look at if we do take control of MSARC is: are there residency issues? Because in this case, we need qualified nurses," said Carpenter. "And there's a nursing shortage, who know how to collect the forensic evidence that we need to prosecute."

Then there's the county's $1.8 billion debt. Malone says she asked Mayor Wharton's community service director how the county would pay for MSARC.

"She basically assured me, after looking at the numbers, that the state or federal dollars to support the center, that it would not be adverse to anything financially to the county," said Malone.

But with talk of layoffs, commissioners will also have to consider if the county has enough staff.

"I think we're all concerned about the victims who have to use the rape crisis center," said Malone. "But we all want to make sure it's managed properly."

In recent weeks, the city made numerous changes at MSARC. They hired a new director, launched a partnership with LeBonheur Children's Medical Center to take on child sex assault cases, and are processing new nurses to fill unstaffed shifts.
 

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