The issue comes as Morrow, home to Southlake Mall and the ill-fated Olde Towne Morrow, has tried to jump start its reputation as a destination for meetings and events. The Clayton city hoped Civentum could promote such assets as performing arts venue Spivey Hall, the National and State Archives and 1.5 miles of trails.
Civentum’s Facebook page shows the company promoting various Morrow events dating back to 2016 when it said it was given a prior contract to market the city.
The city's August 2018 contract with the firm required it to provide quarterly updates to city leaders on the health of Morrow's convention and tourism business, but no information has been provided since the agreement was struck, the city said in the lawsuit.
Morrow fired Civentum earlier in the year, according to the lawsuit, and both parties agreed to turn operations of the convention and tourism centers back over to Morrow.
The city does not appear to know how much tax money Civentum held in its account. Morrow said in the lawsuit filed April 11 that its efforts to get a full accounting of the hotel/motel tax collections and other funds were consistently rebuffed by the company and that the marketing firm also refused to give Morrow access to a Fidelity Bank account where the money was stored.
“The city has requested Civentum provide a complete accounting of public funds, namely the hotel-motel tax proceeds collected by Civentum since December 2018,” Morrow attorney John O’Neal said in an April letter to the firm.
“On no less than three occasions in writing, has the city requested a full accounting of hotel-motel tax funds remitted to Civentum,” he said.