Memphis pays almost 40 times more for flat tire repair than similar cities

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Mayor A C Wharton is trying to determine why Memphis taxpayers dished out about 40 times more money for flat tire repair than other cities of a similar size.

Monday, Wharton said the city of Memphis is investigating why payments to city contractor "Around Town Tire & Trucking" quadrupled in six years.

"If it's supposed to save and create efficiency, it does not appear that we're getting that," Wharton said.

Wharton said a routine city business inquiry sparked the investigation.

"We received some information in the way of challenging a bid that had been awarded, and we started looking into that," he said.

City officials learned the contract, which began at $289,549 in 2004, had sky-rocketed to $1,099,456 by 2009.  And though the city placed a cap on payments to Around Town, most of the city's increasing costs fell under labor.

Former General Services Director Estridge Boone set up the contract before Wharton took office.

Wharton said this is about savings.

"Regardless of who it is, what the relationship may be, that's what we're looking for.  Savings.  We've got a rough, rough year coming up," he said.

Boone came under heavy scrutiny last year for pimping out his city ride, a city-owned Dodge Charger that included candy red paint, tinted windows and expensive wheels.  Wharton let Boone go last month, but the city is scouring Boone's records.

"We're going to assess that entire program," Wharton said. "Not pointing fingers at any particular people."

Officials will compare the number of flats Around Town said they fixed with the number of flats city departments reported.

It's fair to note more city vehicles, like fire and sanitation, were added to Around Town's duties over the years. Every number Action News 5 called to reach Around Town on Monday was disconnected.

City officials said they must continue to honor their legally binding contract with Around Town as they try to get to the bottom of this.

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