City Council Votes to Raise Taxes, Restore Pay Cuts

City Council Votes to Raise Taxes, Restore Pay Cuts

After more than 8 hours of debate stretching from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning, the Memphis City Council passed a budget that raises property tax rates but restores city employee's salaries.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - After more than 8 hours of debate stretching from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning, the Memphis City Council passed a budget that raises property tax rates but restores city employee's salaries.

The Council passed the budget early Wednesday morning, after a tension packed meeting fueled by bickering between city council members.

"Rather then get caught up in magic thinking, if we just have enough creativity, and clap hard enough, Tinkerbell will come back to life. We need to actually address the problem," said council member Shea Flinn at one point.

Council member Harold Collins quickly followed.

"Let me say this about Tinkerbell and fireflies," he said before being shouted down by the council chairman.

"Look at the price we are paying, because no one wanted to listen to me because I'm Fullilove, I dance on the pole and I don't know what the hell I'm talking about," said council member Janis Fullilove.

The city council voted to increase the city's property tax rate from $3.11 to $3.40. It also voted to cut nearly $6 million from Memphis Police Department's budget. The budget does restore city employees' 4.6 percent pay cut they received in 2011.

After the meeting, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said it felt good to restore employee's pay, saying the entire issue had become a drag.

The budget also decreases the number of city employees laid-off from 100 to 50 while increasing funding for code enforcement and community centers.

The entire budget hit a momentary snag after Fullilove voted for the budget, but then later voted against the property tax rate needed to fund it. She said she had voted "no" on accident. She later motioned for a new vote, and the $3.40 property tax rate passed well after midnight.

The City Council had the option to re-consider cuts to the free lunches they receive before city council meetings. The council budgets $8,000 a year for those meals. A motion to cut those lunches failed last week, and a bid to reconsider the motion this week failed as well.


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