Commissioners fired up over possible audit - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Commissioners fired up over possible audit

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Shelby County commissioners are fired up over a possible audit on the legal bills related to the schools issue.

Commissioner Terry Roland asked for an outside audit on the firm Baker Donelson during its session Monday afternoon. He wants to make sure the legal bills aren't being padded or even duplicated.

But some commissioners say it's about embarrassing the firm.

Commissioner Roland proposed an outside firm to look into legal bills after he received a bill with 30 redacted entries. He suggested an auditor review bills dating back to last January.

Roland expects costs for the audit to be around $5,000.

But other commissioners say it's an unnecessary expense and implies they don't trust the firm.
Commissioner Sidney Chism said those in favor of the audit want to  smear the law firm.

"It's all about embarrassing this law firm," Commissioner Chism said. "They don't want anything to do with merging of these school systems, we know it everybody here knows it."

"I want accountability, and I don't appreciate being said I'm trying to embarrass anyone," added Commissioner Chris Thomas. "I'm friends with a lot of these partners and I would never try to do that."

The bills in the school litigation are piling up, to more than $30,000 per month. Those in favor of the audit say a review would help with checks and balances on the growing number of bills.

The commissioners voted to send it back to committee.

"Any notion about having an audit is a thinly veiled pretext to harass this law firm, that's all it is," said Commissioner Walter Bailey.

"What are they hiding, if they're not hiding anything, should be a problem with this," said Commissioner Roland added.

Commissioner Henri Brooks suggested they use their audit committee instead of taking on more expenses with an outside firm.

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