Councilman stirs debate over pricey portraits - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Councilman stirs debate over pricey portraits

(WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Councilman said that expensive portraits paint a bad image of how the council is spending taxpayer money.

Longtime Memphis councilman Bill Boyd proposed a resolution Tuesday to block short-term, interim councilman Berlin Boyd from getting his council portrait.

"I think we need to clamp down on all the wasteful spending we have up here," said Bill Boyd.

Berlin Boyd placed a drawing of a stick figure where his portrait should be.

"I did draw my own portrait, Mr. Boyd, so I did save the taxpayers money," said Berlin Boyd.

Bill Boyd said it is not personal, but he wants all future council members serving less than a year to forego the pricey portraits.

"That's a thousand dollars," said Bill Boyd.

The total cost for all 13 council portraits is $13,000.  Berlin Boyd is serving only five months.  He was appointed to finish Barbara Swearengen Ware's term after she resigned in July.

Berlin Boyd said he understands the concept of protecting taxpayer dollars.

"That's our position as elected or appointed officials, to be frugal with taxpayer money, but I think there are other ways we can find savings," said Berlin Boyd.

After council chairman Myron Lowery announced the portrait company offered to make the portrait for free, the fight fizzled.  The council decided not to vote on the matter.

"If no one disagrees, let's move on," said Lowery.

They may consider bidding out council portraits to seek more competitive prices.

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