Nearly $20K remains on Shuttlesworth funeral bill - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Nearly $20K remains on Shuttlesworth funeral bill

The late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Source: WBRC The late Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Source: WBRC

It has been more than a year since his death, but the funeral costs for the late Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth have still not been paid.

Nearly $20,000 is still owed to the funeral home that handled the service. The Fred Shuttlesworth Foundation says the City of Birmingham is responsible for part of the money.

Before Shuttlesworth's passing in 2011, the council approved $20,000 to the Fred Shuttlesworth foundation to make Shuttlesworth's eventual burial site part of the city's Civil Rights Trail.

The foundation's president says that $20,000 was also to cover three days of high-profile events to remember the civil rights leader.

"They would pay up to $20,000 for a high profile service at the point and time that Pastor Shuttlesworth would pass. It appeared to be cut and dry to make funds available up to $20,000 and not exceeding it," Douglass Petty said.

So plans were made and hundreds were given the chance to say goodbye. After all was said and done, vendors, including the home that handled the funeral service, submitted invoices to the city.

"There was nothing to think, 'Uh-oh when this comes in they'll put a reject on it,'" Petty said.

But one bill has never been paid: the one from Davenport and Harris Funeral Home. After paying out roughly $10,000 to other vendors who participated in the three-day service, the city said none of the $20,000 could go to actual funeral costs.

"The City Council approved Resolution No 1403-11 authorizing a contract in the amount of $20,000 for the incorporation of an honor designation for Fred L. Shuttlesworth into the Legacy Project along the Civil Rights Trail," city attorney, Melissa Smiley, said. "Funeral expenses were not authorized by this resolution. Further, the payment of funeral expenses for a private citizen would not constitute a public purpose under Alabama law."

Smiley says the city is still dedicated to preserving Shuttlesworth's legacy.

"The City is committed to honoring Reverend Shuttlesworth's legacy and with that in mind, the City has or will pay invoices that were legally authorized by the resolution including to Mrs. Shuttlesworth's foundation with hopes that they can settle any further expenses that they have incurred. We hope that both sides of the family find peace as we all mourn the passing of such a great hero and legendary man," Smiley said.

But the foundation's president says what the $20,000 could cover was never explained.

"It was never said what that $20,000 was or wasn't for. It was to facilitate the process of a high profile service," Petty said.

A service Petty says wouldn't have happened if the city didn't suggest it and offer to help with payment.

"If the city wasn't in the picture it would have been a one-day service," Petty said.

Because of the time needed to plan the public services, Shuttlesworth was buried almost three weeks after he died and preserving his body increased the funeral home costs significantly according to the foundation.

Petty says the mayor's office has contacted him twice about the bill, but the $20,000 is still outstanding.

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