MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - You're paying for three Memphis Animal Shelter employees facing criminal charges to sit at home and do nothing.
On March 8, the workers were indicted for animal cruelty; they were relieved of duty with pay. Now the question is how much longer they will stay on the payroll.
For two days we have been asking those in charge at city hall about the three indicted employees. We want to know when their hearing is scheduled to determine if they'll be fired.
Frank Lightfoot, Archie Elliot and Billy Stewart probably aren't rushing to have what's called a civil service hearing. The truth is the longer it takes the more money they'll collect.
For residents, already angry about the accusations that the three abused animals in their care, it's like adding fuel to fire.
"I think it's sad they're getting paid when they have broken the law," said Jill Blachly.
"I think it's ridiculous. If you're not doing the work you shouldn't get paid for it," added Freddie Ball.
It took city hall nine months to terminate former shelter veterinarian Angela Middleton when she was charged with animal cruelty in 2009.
Lightfoot, Elliot and Stewart each make $35,000 a year. If it takes the city as long as it took to fire them as it did Middleton, they'll be paid more than $26,000 each and together more than $78,000.
Mayor A C WHARTON says he doesn't like paying the indicted employees to sit home and do nothing, but federal laws protect public employees.
"Once someone is on the public payroll we've got to give them due process before we lump off their salary," Wharton said. "We're trying to rush through their hearings as fast as we can and that's just the reality of it."
Could the city be moving faster?
The truth is, when animal control officer Demetria Hogan was indicted on animal cruelty charges for the disappearance of a dog named Kapone, the city moved at lightning speed. Within three days of her arrest, Hogan's hearing was held and she was terminated.
So the waiting game goes on, and you're paying for it.
No one at city hall could give us an answer on just when the three will have their hearings. The truth is we're keeping a close eye on this one.