County Commissioners vote to invest in fiber optics company

Shelby County Commissioners are recommending a new investment in the fledgling Memphis Networx project.

Right now, Networx is under investigation by two government agencies.

This new investment into the fiber optics company made some commissioners uneasy. But they felt they had to move now.

Memphis Networx runs Shelby County's communications systems, including 911.

On Monday, the County Budget Committee voted in favor of a proposal to invest $69,000 into Networx to expand the county's internet bandwith and to pay for annual internet and broadband services.

But, state and city legislators are calling for investigations into why the company lost $32 million--much of that money from MLG&W ratepayers.

Commissioner Diedre Malone chairs the Budget Committee. She explained why they voted for the investment despite Memphis Networx's shaky standing.

"They say it's time-sensitive. That's why we moved forward with the vote. But, at any time we can come back and say that they want to go to another provider," said Malone.

The Memphis City Council and Memphis legislators want the Tennessee Regulatory Authority to reveal the private investors in the company and wants the companies financial records.

Last month, the MLGW board voted to sell Networx to Communications Infrastructure Investments last month to cut losses.

Some commissioners are concerned if that company can maintain good standards.

The county also got the green light on the renovation of the Regional Forensics Center.

Commissioners voted to put $280,000 into a state-of-the-art facility. The upgraded center will be able to handle more forensics cases to ease the backlog of autopsies.

It will also bring the 82-year-old building up to standards and serve ass a research center.

"The facility will support us so that we can get to reasons that people die, not just the cause of death, but general trends," said CAO John Fowlkes.

Construction should be complete in two years.


to email Kontji Anthony.