MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Somebody is withholding $50,000 from a popular program that helped tackle blight. People were paid $1 for every tire they turned in to a recycling company for the past two years. It was called the Cash for Tires or Tire Redemption Program. Both the city and county sponsored it, but are now blaming each other for not having the program this year.
First there is miscommunication from both governments. Then leaders say the timing is bad and there's no money for it. Residents don't care about the politics. They just want their neighborhoods cleaned up.
"The city has not come out here and cleaned it up. Our city has become a dumping ground," said Westwood resident Andrew Gillard.
Abc24.com visited Andrew Gillard's neighborhood about a month ago. Today there’s even more trash.
"A week ago there were no tires; there was trash, but now there's tires,” Gillard stated.
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy says more than 70,000 used tires were taken off the streets of Memphis in 2011. Now that the Cash for Tires program is gone, piles and piles of tires are popping up in almost every neighborhood.
"We do have an over abundance of tires littering our streets and in some of our neighborhoods. So we need to do something whether it’s that program or not. I'd like to see it come back,” said Mayor A C Wharton.
Commissioner Mulroy and City Councilman Harold Collins created the Cash for Tires program in 2009. The city and county budgeted a total of $100,000, contributing $50,000 each to fund it. City Public Works Director Dwan Gilliom says there is no money for the program this year. He refused to appear on camera. Councilman Collins says there is money. In fact, the city has $50,000.
"There is money available. The city always had its money available. We were just waiting for the county to get their part,” said Collins.
That would've happened but Mulroy says the city was singing a different tune.
"The county's CAO told me he was repeatedly told by the administration that there was no money in the budget for the Cash for Tires program and as a result we didn't match the city's contribution in our budget,” Mulroy told abc24 news.
Collins says he will meet with Gilliom and Mulroy next week. Collins says they're looking at new legislation and will let the county know the city is ready and willing to start the program again.