LA's Bill for Jackson Memorial: $1.4 Million - NBC 6 South Florida

LA's Bill for Jackson Memorial: $1.4 Million

Councilman: Open books on Jackson memorial

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    LA's Bill for Jackson Memorial: $1.4 Million
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    The memorial at the Staples Center cost Los Angeles millions of dollars for overtime for police officers and other officials as well as other preparations.

    The total taxpayer expense of providing Los Angeles city services for the Michael Jackson memorial tribute at Staples Center was $1.4 million, according to a Twitter post by Matt Szabo, spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

    The city's chief legislative analyst had estimated earlier that the taxpayer cost could be as high as $3.8 million, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine.

    Szabo also said the city has collected more than $17,000 in donations from people who wanted to contribute to the cost of the event.

    The price tag, although less than estimated, came under fire from Zine, who demanded an audit of the city's spending.

    He said he plans to ask Controller Wendy Greuel to examine the books, determine how much taxpayer money was used to secure the streets around Staples Center, and who signed off on it.

    "Who made the approval? Who authorized all this?" Zine said.

    Greuel herself had expressed concerns about the cost even before the memorial began.

    In a letter to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilman Bernard Parks, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee -- dated the eve of the memorial -- she said, "we need to avoid spending any taxpayer funds without reimbursement."

    Greuel urged the officials to "move quickly to create a clear, coherent city policy that dictates who is financially responsible when an extraordinary event such as the Michael Jackson memorial takes place ... to protect our scarce resources during this budget crisis."

    Meanwhile, the mayor's Twitter page contains a posting saying that so many Jackson fans have offered to help the city recoup its costs for the memorial that the website for donations couldn't cope.

    "#MJ link back up! Sorry, overwhelming response from fans brought down our city servers. Donate to Michael's memorial at http://bit.ly/ABdlp," tweeted Szabo.

    Tax-deductible donations may be made through the mayor's official website, which accepts all major credit cards and PayPal, and gives instructions for sending a check payable to the "City of Los Angeles."

    Now that the memorial has been bought and paid for, questions are still swirling about the pop star's final resting place.

    By law, the golden casket that presumably held Jackson's body should be exactly where his death certificate says it is: back at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills cemetery, the site of a private family memorial service held before the Staples ceremony. Los Angeles County records show the cemetery as the temporary location, where it must stay until those records are officially updated.

    But where Jackson's body will eventually be laid to rest remained a mystery, fed by the same level of rumor and speculation that surrounded much of his life. Will he be interred at Forest Lawn? Is Neverland Ranch still a possibility?

    What if he's not buried at all, but cremated? The family isn't talking — and may not even have decided yet.

    A New York Daily News article claims that there is still debate among family members about where to bury Michael. His brother Jermaine would like to see him laid to rest at Neverland Ranch, while his mother, Katherine, is adamantly against it.

    "It's up to Kate," a source told the Daily News Wednesday after Katherine Jackson made her wishes clear during a family meeting at their compound in Los Angeles.