MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The Memphis fight against blight is about to take a beating of its own as the new city budget takes effect Sunday.
The city council cut property taxes, but now there will be cuts in services, especially concerning community enhancement.
There are still signs here and there why Memphis was considered for years to be a city that was beautiful. You can still find the signs of pride.
But head down a couple of blocks and quickly you find that this city ain’t beautiful. Boarded up homes, vacant lots choking on the weeds are everywhere. Blight is the word they use to describe it in Memphis, and just the thought of it angers people.
“I had a community meeting in Raleigh six weeks ago,” said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. “There wasn’t a single question on crime. It was all about how long will it take to get those tires out of the ditch, or when can you cut those weeds.”
The answer is, the weeds will be cut and the tires will be carted off. But it’s going to take some time. Budget cuts that go into effect on July 1 will make things more difficult, according to the Mayor. “There were cuts of five million dollars from our materials and supplies,” Mayor Wharton said. “That includes gasoline and lawn mowers and things like that.”
The Mayor was bragging recently about how the city is getting overgrown lots in shape less than one month after a complaint is filed. It might not sound like something to brag about, but the city is stuffed with these real life Chia Pets. That’s not their only problem, either. “The speed with which we’ll respond to some calls for getting tires out of ditches and things like that will change. We will still do those things, but it’s going to take longer to get them done."
The city can only do so much, Mayor Wharton said. In some places, it can’t do anything.
Wharton says every day he drives by railroad tracks near his home, and notices the tall thick weeds that line the tracks. “They won’t let us cut the weeds on that. So when you see weeds along those railroads, don’t call the city on that.”
There won’t be any cuts in public safety, the Mayor says. He hopes that everything can be taken care of properly in next year’s budget. Of course, he said the same thing last year.