Beale Street Bucks lowered to $5

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - City Council voted to reduce the price of Beale Street Bucks to $5.

Beale Street Bucks has been under scrutiny since it began. The program charged people $10 during peak Beale Street times. People who paid the fee received an $8 voucher to be used at businesses on Beale Street.

The idea behind the program was to help reduce the number of people on Beale Street--therefore making it safer.

Tuesday, City Council voted to change the program, making the price just $5 and having all of that money go to City of Memphis. The city will also create a task force to study the impact of the program.

Mayor Jim Strickland's Administration said it is looking into the legality of the move.

Some council members want the program gone completely--calling it racist and illegal. While Mayor Jim Strickland and Memphis Police Department said the program (it its initial form) was essential for public safety.

"It's all we have that has worked," Rallings said.

Rallings told City Council that Beale Street Bucks cut crime and violence by more than 30 percent.

Rallings showed three videos of stampedes on Beale, saying the time Beale Street Bucks was in place helped keep the stampede from being a dangerous disaster.

"We are at a critical time, I think, in the history of the street," Rallings said.

"We don't want to risk public safety by terminating the program," Strickland said.

Two weeks ago a council committee voted to end Beale Street Bucks, but the full council never voted on the issue.

The program runs on 20 Saturdays a year for five hours and requires patrons to pay $10 to enter Beale. Anyone paying the $10 gets an $8 voucher to be used inside business on Beale Street.

Its legality and rationale have long been challenged.

"You can't charge people to go on a public street," council member Joe Brown said.

"That is our number one responsibility: the public safety of the people in the city," council member Worth Morgan said.

But the question remains: Who has the final say over Beale Street? City Council or the mayor?

Ultimately the answer could come down to a judge inside a courtroom.

City Council attorney Allen Wade said he doesn't believe the city can use police power to pay for a private program.

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