BIRMINGHAM Ala. (WIAT) — Jefferson County commissioners are exploring options on how to help the World Games in Birmingham organizers pay off their debt. Earlier this week, World Games officials said they are fourteen million dollars in the hole.
County commissioner Joe Knight says there is no sugar coating the situation. He says expenses for the World Games ended up being about $65 million, but only $51 million in revenue came in.
Knight says the World Games as an event was a success, but there is now a financial burden left to handle.
He says the commission may provide up to $4 million and they will continue to explore options to help towards this World Games deficit.
The three options Jefferson County Commission is considering are general fund money, reserves and the American Rescue Plan Act, which was provided to Jefferson County for COVID relief.
“Some of the commissioners may vote for it, some may not,” said Knight. “But I’m going to continue to work with the other partners to get this resolved and behind us so that we don’t have a bad mark on a great event.”
Local resident Ronald Jackson says not another penny should be spent out of taxpayer dollars. He believes the World Games organizing committee should take responsibility for this deficit.
“[Financially] what did they know? When did they know it? And why did they wait till the last minute to say ‘Oops! We’re in the whole,’” said Jackson. “That’s not good business management. Plain and simple.”
Commission president Jimmie Stephens says it is premature to do anything concerning the World Games. He says they need accounting records and to know what contractual partners of the World Games are doing to reduce the deficit.
Stephens made clear they will look into available funds, but the commission will not forgo any obligation to what they need to do.
“We will maintain our partnership, but we will not expend taxpayer dollars that are dedicated for our roads,” said Stephens. “We’re going to make sure that our citizens are taken care of first.”
Stephens says the World Games deficit will be on the commission agenda for discussion at a future date and time. This could be next week or several weeks in the future.