Memphis City Vehicle Tire Repair Oversight Questioned

March 04, 2010

MEMPHIS, TN - Excessive vehicle repair invoices submitted by Around Town Tire & Trucking for city vehicles pose questions about alleged oversight of the repair company at the center of an internal city probe in Memphis, Tenn., reports The Commercial Appeal.

Memphis city evicted Around Town workers from its repair garages this month following questions about the firm's unusual access to city facilities and its rapidly expanding charges. Around Town, which holds an exclusive contract to repair tires on city vehicles, received nearly $1.1 million from the City last year.

Among those charges are invoices for 20 flat repairs over a 23-month period to one police car, 11 of them at the same intersection in residential North Memphis, according to City records. The car was one of 37 records indicate received 10 or more tire repairs within one year.

"That does raise some red flags," said Don Boyd, deputy chief for administrative services.

Boyd declined to discuss General Services' oversight of the invoices. However, patrol logs released by MPD show only two of the 20 police car flats listed in invoices maintained by General Services.

Around Town's attorney, Lenal Anderson, questioned whether the logs "are valid and efficiently kept." He said owner Velma McMahan has done a good job for the City.

Police cautioned that their records could be incomplete. Boyd said flats occurring on the station lot wouldn't be logged and that some flat calls simply might not have been logged.

While some patrol officers say they've driven 15 years or more with just one or two flats, Boyd said the department doesn't track flats. Given the nature of police work, he said he'd guess the number is higher on a squad car than for the general public.

City officials say payments to Around Town grew rapidly in recent years as the firm was given work on greater numbers of vehicles. Officials have been unable to say, however, why Around Town was paid hundreds of thousands more than estimates in its contract.

McMahan said she's disturbed by the city's decision to evict her workers, a move that effectively gutted a large portion of the firm's city work, leaving her employees idle, according to The Commercial Appeal.

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