Memphis Police Union Wary of More City Budget Cuts Ahead

Memphis Police Union Wary of More City Budget Cuts Ahead

Two groups that don't really like each other are about to go at it again, and it could get ugly. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton's administration is working on ways to cut budget costs next year. One of the options is charging city workers, including police officers, more for benefits.
MEMPHIS, TN ( - Let me tell you a story. Memphis Police officers feel picked on by city leaders and there are many who want nothing to do with them. At a new Beale Street precinct, opening in an old bar, all the cleaning and construction work being done is handled by off-duty police officers. It’s not costing taxpayers a nickel. The cops didn’t want to deal with the city, even though sooner or later Memphis is going to come a callin’. “The sales tax initiative failed,” says Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little. “The City Council and the public generally have shown a strong reluctance as far as any increases in property taxes.”

George Little has studied those taxpayer tea leaves, and they almost always tell him what he can do with those plans for a tax increase. Something has got to give, however, and speaking of giving, Little says the city is thinking of giving back at least some of that 4.6 percent pay cut city workers got hit with a few years ago. If it doesn’t make sense to talk budget cuts but raise salaries, listen to Little. “We’re looking at this, because we know that in the course of calendar year 2014, we’re going to have to raise health care premiums or cut down on the level of benefits. Maybe increase co-pays.”

Little has just started talking with the Memphis Police Association about these possibilities. They are just words - words that seemed to be basted in castor oil as far as union President Mike Williams is concerned. “What they’re saying is, we’re going to give you the four point six percent in order to try and fool the public into believing they’re supporting the employees. But on the backside, they’re going to take even more money away from them as far as benefits and things like that they’ve earned over the years.”

Williams says he understands people not wanting to raise taxes. He doesn't want to see taxes go up either. But, Williams says he's more concerned with providing for his family.

Buckle your seatbelts, because it's going to be a bumpy negotiation.

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