Citing a need for accountability and transparency, the Metro Council budget and finance committee unanimously voted to support a resolution to create a new Convention Center Authority, which would oversee the development of the proposed Music City Center.
Council still must pass the resolution creating the new board at its Tuesday meeting.
District 4 Councilman Michael Craddock said he supported the resolution because it took oversight of the $635 million project away from the embattled Metro Development and Housing Agency and gave it to a board, over which Council will have more oversight.
The nine-member board will be selected by Mayor Karl Dean and approved by Council. The Convention Center Authority will also make quarterly reports to Council.
MDHA has faced strong criticism from Council members, since it was revealed that public relations firm McNeely, Pigott & Fox billed Metro more than $450,000 for communications for the convention center project. MDHA has oversight over all predevelopment activities and the original communications contract was for just $75,000.
“I’m not totally sure that MDHA is spending that money the way they ought to be spending it,” Craddock said. “I think this is the best and the quickest way to bring accountability back to this process.”
Dean called for an independent audit of predevelopment spending on Monday, while the powerful PR firm also announced it was stepping down from communications work for the convention center.