Faith Waning in City Leaders as Budget Chaos Grows

Faith Waning in City Leaders as Budget Chaos Grows

The Memphis city budget battle continues to fester, and it's changing the way people look at all of the Bluff City's elected leaders. That includes Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who was one of this city's most popular politicians.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - The Memphis city budget battle continues to fester, and it's changing the way people look at all of the Bluff City's elected leaders. That includes Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, who was one of this city's most popular politicians.

When the State of Tennessee threatens to step in and do the job local politicians are supposed to do, that's not a ringing endorsement of local politics.

The Memphis City Council gets criticized all the time. Mayor A C Wharton doesn't - until now.

Taxpayers didn't do a thing wrong. But this situation is kind of like the bank telling you that your account is fine, but somebody else has made a bundle of mistakes so you have to pay for those mistakes. It's not fair, but that's the way it is.

It started with the city dealing with property values going down, the first time that's happened in recent memory.

"You go in and through no fault of anybody there's a $30 million loss in your revenue," said Mayor Wharton. "So it's the perfect storm, if you wish."

If you remember the movie the perfect storm, the fishing ship smack in the middle of it sank. Now Memphis is in danger of sinking in red ink.

People are hoping things work out, but their confidence in government is clearly shaken.

Memphian Judy Alexander said, "I have faith in the mayor," but as for the city council, "not as much," she said.

Mayor Wharton, who won his last election with more than 70 percent of the vote, is getting criticized these days - and that's never really happened in his political career.

"Am I a glutton for punishment? No, I am not. Would I prefer that I not have to suffer those accusations? Oh, I would certainly prefer that," he said.

Not everybody blames the mayor or the city council. Some blame themselves.

Peg Holton noted, "We elected people in by name recognition or whatever so, bottom line, we're responsible."

City council members hope to be able to vote on the budget next Tuesday.

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