Despite lean budget, City goes whole hog at barbecue contest - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Jason Miles

Despite lean budget, City goes whole hog at barbecue contest

"Trimming the fat" did not include bowing out of barbecue fest for the City of Memphis. The City built a sizeable booth.

"My first impression is that it's a lean year and we're asking everyone to cut," said Memphis councilman Bill Morrison.  "We might have wanted to reconsider this."

Inside the booth, city workers have put their day-jobs aside.

"I've been about 28 years in the accounting office as an accountant," said Ron Yates.

Taxpayers are still paying Yates and the others to spend their days barbecuing.

"And really, it's harder work," said Yates. "Cause I work here 18 hours a day -- smokin' from morning to night."

The mayor's office confirms city workers also constructed the booth while on the clock. Thousands of additional dollars were spent on entertainment and miscellaneous items.

"We need to ask, is this the best way to spend the taxpayer's money?" said Morrison.

Memphis In May organizers hated it when the city had to pull out in previous years. Festival CEO Jim Holt believes it's hard to put a price on good public relations.

"I think it's important for the mayor as a city leader to be welcoming," said Holt.

It's something the employees consider part of the job for one week in May. 

"We just make them feel like home," said Yates.

The mayor's office said most of the food and beverages served at the city's booth were donated.       

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