Memphis mayor: 'the city dropped the ball' on record keeping reg - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Mayor: 'Memphis dropped the ball' on record keeping regarding events' policing

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A flaw in City of Memphis' record keeping made it seem that several notable local organizations did not pay their bills to the city.  Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is taking full responsibility for the mistake. A flaw in City of Memphis' record keeping made it seem that several notable local organizations did not pay their bills to the city. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is taking full responsibility for the mistake.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - A flaw in City of Memphis' record keeping made it seem that several notable local organizations did not pay their bills to the city. The issue was uncovered by the WMC Action News 5 Investigators.

The numbers provided to WMC Action News 5 Wednesday from City of Memphis' attorney turned out to be out of date. Those numbers accused several big organizations of not paying for extra police presence during events.

Now, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is taking full responsibility for the mistake.

"We, in the city, dropped the ball, point blank," he said. "I'm the mayor. I'll accept full responsibility."

Mayor Wharton says the out of date numbers provided to WMC Action News 5 claimed that five organizations owed the city money. Memphis In May, St. Jude, Southern Heritage Classic were all labeled "pending waiver review."

"Even before this even came up, we came up with a procedure for all big events like St. Jude, in which you can file for a waiver," said Wharton.

The waiver shows that if an event brings in more money than it costs to provide extra policing, then organizations do not owe the city money. The three organizations previously mentioned did bring in more money with their events than the cost of extra policing.

The St. Jude Marathon alone has a $20 million annual economic impact. Memphis In May brings in more than $70 million. And Southern Heritage Classic brings in more than $15 million.

So how does the city pay for the extra police enforcement?

"Hotel, motel taxes, beverage taxes, sales taxes, you see we really have to push the sales tax piece because we don't have an income tax piece," said Wharton. "So, every time we can bring somebody in here who spends that sales tax, because we get a big chunk."

Wharton says following this investigation, the city will change the process.

"Where we dropped the ball is we did not process the waiver process and they ended up getting an invoice," explained Wharton, who added they will process the waivers on the front end from now on to avoid any confusion.

"St. Jude has a precious name, it's a valuable name. It's one of our most valuable corporate citizens, and I regret that happened to them," said Wharton. "Additionally, since the 2013 St. Jude Marathon was canceled due to inclement weather, Memphis Police Department incurred no expense last year."

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