MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The head of the Memphis City Council Budget Committee is sharpening his scalpel. Jim Strickland says there is some cutting to do.
ABC 24 News found a lot of people working for the city who are making six figure salaries, far more than the average person in this city. And the people paying those salaries are the people who are also working hard to make a buck.
Those city workers making six figure salaries ought to at least buy you dinner, because you folks sure buy their groceries.
Two years ago the highest paid appointed workers took five percent pay cuts. They weren't included in last year's cuts, which hit cops and firefighters and all the other city employees.
This year might be different.
The Director of the Library makes more than $110,000 a year. Her Deputy Director makes almost $102,000. That might smack you right in the Dewey Decimal System.
They are two of 37 employees out of more 259 appointed workers who make six-figure salaries working in city government.
"I think when you're facing a 47 million dollar deficit, you have to look at every single position. Not only the salary, but is the position really needed in the first place," Strickland said.
Now consider this. Next week, city council members are scheduled to vote on raising your property taxes by 18 cents.
While that happens, Chief Administrative Officer George Little will be getting paid his salary of $147,850.30. Herman Morris, the City Attorney, will be working for his $133,000. Benton Nair, the Chief of Information Systems in city government, will be bringing home his $130,800.
In the Memphis Fire Department, three Deputy Chiefs make more than $103,000. The Fire Director makes just over $120,000.
In the Memphis Police Department, five Deputy Chiefs make a little more than $103,000 a year. The Deputy Director makes more than $109,000. Police Director Toney Armstrong makes the same as the Fire Director, just over $120,000 a year.
Granted, we are talking just 37 people.
Strickland noted, "Yes, it's a small amount, but I think it sends a signal to the public that we're serious about what we're cutting. We have a lot of PR people working for the city; I think we need to cut them back… I think until you are serious about cutting every possible piece of waste in city government, the city's citizens will never accept a tax increase."
The 18 cent property tax increase is supposed to be a one time increase. It's supposed to cover the current budget deficit of more than $15 million.
Mayor Wharton has guaranteed there would be no salary cuts coming from him this year.
"Last week, Mayor Wharton proposed this tax increase without one mention of any possible cuts we could make. I just don't think that's the way you should operate," Strickland said. "We could do a lot of things. There are possible layoffs, not filling vacant positions."
Nobody wants to get a pay cut. But when you run a business that runs on tax money, and you folks are tired of paying all those taxes, the business has to do something. Cut salaries, or services, or something.
On a related note, there are a dozen appointees who make $22,318.40 a year. That's a full time job. They make $7,000 a year less then the Memphis City Council members, which is only a part time job.