MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Thousands of tires that are sitting on a South Memphis lot months after the Tire Redemption Program are going to be removed in the next few weeks.
There were 50,000 tires collected through the city and county program in January, and for the past two months, thousands sat there collecting dust and rainfall.
FOX13 also discovered the company who partnered with the city of Memphis and Shelby County owes thousands in back taxes.
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Refurban Memphis LLC, who owns the lot where the tires are sitting, owes tens of thousands of dollars in city and county taxes.
County commissioners also approved a grant using taxpayer dollars to go Refurban, and the company was not even vetted before the vote.
The company owes more than $42,000 in city and county back taxes. Records show the taxes are from 2017 and 2018 with interest because of late fees.
FOX13’s Kirstin Garriss tried calling the company, and when they didn’t return her phone call, she went to Refurban’s site on Florida Street but no one was there during business hours.
Robert Knecht, director for Memphis’ public works, told FOX13 he didn’t know Refurban was in tax trouble. He said Refurban has been a good community partner in the past.
In February shortly after Refurban offered its lot for the Tire Redemption Program, Shelby County commissioners approved $15,000 of taxpayer dollars, so the company could get a state grant.
The county was matching funding for a state grant worth $30,000 total. The company planned to use the grant for new equipment.
Commissioner Eddie Jones, who sponsored this resolution, said he didn’t know about Refurban’s history with back taxes before the vote.
He said companies are normally vetted ahead of time but this time, Refurban wasn’t vetted before the meeting. But Jones said the company hasn’t received any county funding yet.
He said after each vote, the county’s attorney will review the resolution and then it’ll go to the finance department.
“Whether [vetting] happens before or after, it still going through those checks but in a normal situation most of vetted prior to the commission voting on it,” said Jones. “But you do have resolutions that come without going through. That process is still in place and it’s still vetted before any funds are released.”
Knecht said the tires will be recycled by Liberty Tires. He doesn't know how much it'll cost, but he said it cost more money than the city initially budgeted for this program.
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