JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) — Jackson Mayor Scott Conger's office is reviewing the city’s baseball-related spending practices, The Jackson Sun reported.
Conger told the paper the review began after he was sworn into office last year but has picked up following a recent investigation by the Sun that found city officials worked with the Jackson Generals to avoid public disclosure laws and hide reimbursements.
The Sun’s investigation found the city was reimbursing the team for in-kind trades the team made with local businesses. For example, the Generals would swap things like suites and tickets for equipment from local businesses or advertising spots from local media outlets. Although the team didn't pay for the equipment and advertising it received, it would seek reimbursement for those items from the city.
Some of the reimbursements were broken into payments, avoiding a city council rule that any invoice over $10,000 had to be approved by them.
The city of Jackson has spent $13.4 million on its baseball team over the last 10 years, the equivalent of $1 out $50 tax dollars going to the team.
Financial issues surrounding the Generals were one of several issues the city self-reported to the state Comptroller’s Office in August. Conger said the city will determine how to act based on the Comptroller’s recommendation but is also doing an internal review. He said the city intends to review every invoice the team has submitted for reimbursement.
The team's future in Jackson is uncertain.
The Generals' lease agreement with the city ends in December 2020, but could automatically renew in September so long as it remains a Class A, AA or AAA minor league team.
However, the Generals was on a November 2019 list of teams that could be eliminated as Major League Baseball renegotiates its contract with its minor league.
The city is also in the middle of a budget crunch. It expects to lose an estimated $4 million in tax revenue this year and already has furloughed 190 employees.