MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland says he is just now looking at the consultant report concerning Light, Gas and Water, and possibly a rate hike request.
Understand something about Mayor Jim Strickland.
This even goes back to his days on the City Council.
This guy is no fan of raising taxes or rates or any stuff likethat.
“I look at any rate increase, or tax increase veryskeptically,” he says. “You’ve got to prove to me that you have noalternative other than raising the rates or raise taxes.”
Memphis Light Gas and Water officials say they’ve got to do whatthey’ve got to do.
The entire system has this bad habit of not working when itrains…or its windy…or even on some sunny days.
Doing necessary work on equipment will cost about one billiondollars.
A consultant’s report recommends firing between 3-hundred and4-hundred workers to get some of that money.
MLGW President J.T. Young says there will NOT be any mass firings.
“Our intention,” he says, “… is throughattrition over five years to accomplish the recommendations set forth in thestudy…which is around an 11 to 13 percent reduction.”
Mayor Strickland says employees cost money.
They work…you pay them.
“Whether it’s the city of Memphis or MLGW, Mayor Stricklandsays, “… the number one driver of costs is people. with city governmentpeople is probably 70 percent of our budget. When you try to drive efficiencyit does affect your head count.”
Putting three or four hundred people out of work in a city wherethe poverty rate is increasing doesn’t help matters.
Not to mention there are plenty of folks in Memphis that oftenhave to decide whether to spend money on food or their utility bills.
“I’ve not read the efficiency study,” saysStrickland. “I’ve not seen their proposed budget. But I will go at it veryskeptically, whether it’s a property tax increase or a rate increase forMLGW..”