UPDATE: The Memphis City Council voted to take $10.2 million out of the city's reserves and agreed to $3 million in cuts. Those cuts would not affect the Memphis Police Department. The tax increase was voted down.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Although a few say Mayor A C Wharton hasn't done nearly enough to find ways to save money, here's something interesting. Before, everyone agreed the city is facing a deficit between $17 million and $18 million. But overnight, the mayor says he found a way to cut that number by $10 million.
The mayor was asking for an 18 cent property tax, which equates to an extra $45 in property tax on a $100,000 home.
Now he says 13 cents will be fine. That would mean an increase of $32.50 on your bill for that same $100,000 house.
There are a few on city council who say, how about no tax increase at all.
City Councilman Kemp Conrad calls budget time in Memphis "the most dysfunctional process I've ever seen in my life."
The man that Kemp Conrad says put the 'dys' into the dysfunctional process is Mayor A C Wharton. The mayor came to the council budget committee with more than $5 million in cuts, including not hiring new police officers or other employees.
Wharton also says he found a way to save $5 million from the Overton Square garage process.
"It transpired within the last 24 hours," Wharton said. "I personally was negotiating until the late hours last night."
But the mayor did admit that promises made last year to save money are promises that he still hasn't delivered on.
Councilman Jim Strickland pointed out, "The mayor was supposed to come up with a plan of action to make cuts through all city government within sixty days of the last budget. We still don't have a plan."
Strickland says he won't vote for any tax increase.
Councilman Kemp Conrad says he won't either. He wants to know what happened to $13 million put aside for a buyout of sanitation workers. The administration is still trying to figure out how to do a buyout, even though guidelines were approved last year.
"We're fiddling while Memphis is burning on this budget stuff," Conrad stated.
A C Wharton doesn't buy that fiddling and burning stuff. The mayor says he's just trying to be honest, even though some on the council don't buy it.
"I've always believed in putting out the full truth out to the citizens… they are entitled to that. I have no problem with that. That's the democracy, checks and balances."
There is a very good chance there will be a tax increase, but it won't be 18 cents and it might not be 13 cents.
This tax increase is for the current year; they haven't even started next year's fight yet, when the city will be $45 million in the hole for 2013.
The 2013 fiscal year starts on July 1.