Metro Council members will host a public panel discussion concerning the public relations invoices turned in for the convention center project on Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. at the historic Metro courthouse.
The panel discussion is being hosted by Council members Tim Garrett, Eric Crafton, Emily Evans and Mike Jameson and is open to the public. Metro Development and Housing Agency Director Phil Ryan, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling, McNeely Pigott & Fox founding partner Mike Pigott and Convention Center Commission members have been invited to attend.
The meeting was originally called for by Jameson last week after it was revealed that McNeely, Pigott & Fox had billed the city for over $450,000 for communications work done for the proposed new convention center project. The original contract between MDHA and the PR firm was for $75,000, but it was amended last year to become open-ended.
Ryan said on Tuesday the contract actually had a cap of $900,000.
Mayor Karl Dean called for suspending the use of McNeely, Pigott & Fox pending a review of the invoices, which is being conducted by the Finance Department.
Jameson said last week the Finance Department was the wrong entity to conduct the review, because the invoices show regular meetings between the PR firm and Riebeling.
Ryan said MDHA was conducting a review of the invoices as well.
As a result of the story, first reported by NewsChannel 5, Dean also required MDHA to forward all predevelopment invoices to the Finance Department for review before payment is issued.
So far, Metro has spent $16 million on predevelopment activities. The funds come from tourism-related taxes and fees created last year by Council.
The administration has said it will bring a financing package to Council for approval on the estimated $635 million project in the coming months.