Budget Bickering: Memphis Faces Tough Decisions

Budget Bickering: Memphis Faces Tough Decisions

Name-calling, finger-pointing and big decisions ahead, it must be budget time at Memphis City Hall.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - With name-calling, finger-pointing and big decisions ahead, it must be budget time at Memphis City Hall.

On Thursday afternoon, Memphis City Council members got their first budget presentation for fiscal year 2014. The presentation came with a dire warning: either property taxes must be increased, or the city will be forced to lay off city workers.

"What do we as a city want as far as a level of service, and how much are we willing to pay for it?" asked George Little, the city's Chief Administrative Officer. "It is fine to talk about cuts until you talk about your park, until you talk about it is your precinct house."

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton is proposing raising the property tax rate to $3.36 to help fund the city's $622.2 million budget. The current property tax rate is $3.11.

Under Wharton's budget, no one would be laid off, and there would be no cut to city services.

Under another proposed budget, this one factoring in requests by city council members, the property tax rate stays the same, but 1,420 city workers would be laid-off, leading to a drastic cut in city services.

"I wish I could say what I really want to say, but it is a bunch of you know what," said council member Janis Fullilove. "I don't believe any of it, I believe the Administration is full of it and I stand by that."

The full city council will hear the budget next Tuesday. It must be approved in time for the start of the next fiscal year on July 1st.

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