Memphis Budget Hearings Begin with Frustration and Confusion

Memphis Budget Hearings Begin with Frustration and Confusion

Memphis City Council members are frustrated, confused, and angry with the mayor's budget.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis City Council members are frustrated, confused, and angry with the mayor's budget. Tuesday was the first of a series of budget hearings for fiscal year 2014.

Mayor A C Wharton's $623 million budget included a property tax increase and restoring half of the 4.6 percent pay cut to city employees. City council voted against the mayor's initial budget.

The city's finance division was a bit rushed presenting the budget, leaving city council with many unanswered questions, while other councilmen already had their minds made up: the mayor needs to go back to the drawing board.

"I don't know where it goes from here but it needs a whole lot of work, it's pretty frustrating,” said Councilman Lee Harris.

"I am concerned about the mayor's budget," said Councilman Shea Flinn.

That's because possible layoffs were mentioned, but no answer to which department would be hit. What’s more frustrating is the 'fuzzy math'. The mayor says property taxes will stay the same but council members see the numbers differently.

"I think there's potential harmful impact to all the businesses in our community. We know their appraisals went up this year so when they say, 'Oh it's not a tax increase,' it is a tax increase on them,” said Flinn.

Councilman Joe Brown ranted amongst his colleagues for voting against the mayor's budget.

"The process has to be fair,” said Councilman Brown.

He says the budget presentation was rushed and many already had their minds made up.

"It's unfair to the citizens, it's unfair to some legislators but I'll speak out,” said Brown.

Tuesday night was just a small piece of what the council has to scrutinize over the $622.5 million budget for 2014. There are several more budget hearings to have everyone on the same page.

"The things that they said are not credible and some of the things are smoke and mirrors,” said Harris. "We really need to go back to the drawing board.”

On Thursday, April 25, city council will talk about the police, human resources, and other budget proposals. City leaders have until July 1 to approve a final budget.
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