I-Team: At $395 an hour, council investigation into Mayor Barry - WSMV News 4

I-Team: At $395 an hour, council investigation into Mayor Barry could be costly

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If Metro Council approves a Memphis law firm to launch an investigation into the Mayor Megan Barry's extramarital affair, taxpayers will have no idea how much it could cost until a month later.

Under a stipulation of the proposed contract, the firm Burch, Porter & Johnson must report monthly how much they are charging the city.

Until then, all the council knows is that the firm is billing at $395 an hour.

Metro Council Director Mike Jameson admits there is an element of unknown.

“Do we know how many hours they're going to bill?” asked the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigator Jeremy Finley.

“No,” Jameson said.

“Do we know ultimately how much it will cost?” Finley asked. 

"No,” Jameson said.

"Do we know how we’re going to pay for it?” Finley asked.  

“No,” Jameson admitted.

Jameson said the money would ultimately come out of the general fund for the city, but it’s unknown at this point which division of the fund. 

Doing the basic math, a single eight-hour day at that rate would cost taxpayers $3,160. If the firm did a week of work at that rate, it would cost $12,640.

“Fiscally, as a city, are we in a position to pay for this?” the I-Team asked.

“It's a tough fiscal year, I know that,” Jameson said.

As part of the contract, the city has the option to kill the deal if the costs get too high.

“Does this come at an opportune time? No,"  Jameson said. "For that reason, the committee is insisting on some controls that we're not just opening up the spigot."

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