Commissioners question mayors' MSARC deal - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Commissioners question mayors' MSARC deal

By Janice Broach - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The future of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center is once again uncertain as Shelby County Commissioners take issue with a joint mayoral plan to fund and run the center.

Earlier this week, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton announced they had reached a decision: the rape crisis center would be operated by Shelby County by way of the Memphis-Shelby County Health Department.

Thursday, Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz said the mayors can't make an agreement like that.

"If they can just do this, why can't they merge the two governments and call us over for a celebration?" Ritz asked.

An opinion from Shelby County's attorney says the mayors can't make deals without the approval of the Shelby County Commission and the Memphis City Council.

Monday, Ritz plans to introduce a resolution calling for a centralized location for the rape crisis center. Ritz said would like to see children and adults taken care of in one location, and it might mean the rape crisis center itself would move to another location.

"The county's got plenty of places to put it," he said.

Ritz and other commissioners say they don't have any problem with the County taking over the center, and they don't have a problem coming up with the $200,000 needed to get things going.

"No one wants to get in the way of the rape crisis thing fixed," he said. "It's terribly screwed up."

But Ritz wants the decision to happen the way it legally should, to keep the checks and balances in place.

The transfer of control of MSARC came after two 14-year-old victims were turned away from MSARC, a move that later revealed mismanagement and missing money within the center.

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