Shelby County Commission issues moratorium on government contracts

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Shelby County Commissioners said they will not change the budget or award any large contracts until after the August elections.

The Shelby County Commission is issuing a moratorium on major spending more than $50,000.

The timing of this announcement coincides with MLK50 events and the fight for economic equality.

Less than one percent of county contracts go to minority or women-owned businesses. Commissioners said they want to change that statistic.

"That's not right, that's not the dream Dr. King preached about," commissioner Van Turner said. "That's not what we're about here at the county commission. We're going to stand for what's right in this county and we want to stand for what's right with our local businesses."

During the moratorium, the commission hopes to streamline the county's bid process, making it easier for small business owners to apply.

Commissioners weren't specific on how long the moratorium will last, but it could be until the next general election in August.

Emergency spending and general funding projects will not be impacted.

Turner also released this statement Monday:

"My colleagues believe that we should not enter into contracts or approve budget amendments for a term that would eliminate both the incoming Mayor and the incoming Shelby County Commissioners from having input or approval. We recognize that this resolution will be viewed in stark contrast against traditional contracting practices within Shelby County Government, and given that our MWBE program is in its infancy,  we  believe it is imperative to incorporate the necessary cures to allow for maximization of  M/WBE and LOSB participation."

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