Public relations firm McNeely, Pigott & Fox is officially suspended from working on communications for the proposed Music City Center project.
Metro Development and Housing Agency Director Phil Ryan announced in a letter today that he will follow Mayor Karl Dean’s directive  to suspend using the PR giant for the new convention center project.
The move comes after an exposé by NewsChannel5 that showed McNeely, Pigott & Fox had billed Metro for more than $450,000 for work on the predevelopment phase of the convention center. The original contract was for $75,000, but was amended by the MDHA board last year to become open-ended.
Dean has called for an audit to be conducted by the Metro Department of Finance of the invoices turned in by the PR firm. The invoices showed McNeely, Pigott & Fox executives were meeting with Dean and his senior aides on a weekly basis.
“Our goal remains being good stewards of public funds,” Ryan said in a letter to Dean and other Metro officials.
McNeely, Pigott & Fox founding partner Mike Pigott said the firm would abide by Dean’s directive.
So far Metro has spent $16 million on the predevelopment phase of the proposed project and allocated another $75 million for land acquisition at the proposed SoBro site. The funds will come out of the hotel/motel and tourism taxes created by Metro Council last year.