MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Memphis Mayor A C Wharton says it's a guarantee: he won't ask for any more pay cuts from city employees.
The city is $17 million in the red, and there are projections that next year the deficit could top $40 million. Even with the guarantee, the city employee unions are still battling last year's pay cuts in court.
For Memphis city employees, the last few years have been tough. We're not even talking about whether they look at the old proverbial glass and say it's half empty or half full. They're just thankful they have a glass at all.
We're talking about jobs of course, and last year the city had to fire more than 120 workers, and cut everybody else's pay by more than four and a half percent.
"When you have police and fire and sanitation workers and public servants and individuals that represent the people that are unhappy, there should be other ways to cut this budget," noted Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams. "We're still spending money all over the place."
Remember something about Memphis. The city council is the group of people who decide how your tax money will be spent, not Mayor A C Wharton. But face it, the mayor can certainly give your money a nudge over here or a push over there to send it on its way. He's the one who cut city employee pay by 4.6 percent last year.
As far as this year is concerned, the mayor says it's not going to happen.
"As far as I'm concerned, I can guarantee it," he said.
The Wharton guarantee might not mean much to some city employees. Last year the group had agreed not to ask for any raises and expected salaries to be left alone. The pay cut they got left such a bad taste in their mouths that the unions filed a lawsuit against the city.
But this time, Mayor Wharton says they're going to have to find other places to cut, or possibly raise property taxes.
Wharton told abc24.com, "I just think we've gotten to the point we've cut to the bone there, and I think it would be self defeating and unfair to cut anymore."
Raising property taxes is political suicide, so you won't hear anybody talking about it, at least right now. But if they don't cut employees, or slash pay, they'll need to slash services or raise taxes.
One way or the other, you're going to feel it.