There are critics of Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. Harry Truman once said if a politician wanted a friend, he should buy a dog. But one area where critics have to fall silent is his relationship with city council, especially when it concerns the budget.
The monumentally long meetings, the bombastic outbursts the flat-out anger that was common in city budget talks hasn’t happened in three years.
“Our goal is to get a budget passed that helps Memphis and do it in a way that everyone gets something,” Strickland says.
This year, the Memphis City Budget was approved without a property tax increase, in record time.
Everyone DIDN’T get what they wanted but the mayor says what happened is an example of communicating between the council and the himself.
“I think it’s a lot of work before it gets to the final vote,” Strickland says. He was a loud critic of the lack of communications between Mayor AC Wharton and City Council, when Strickland was a Councilman.
“Our administration worked with the council even before I presented the budget,” Strickland says. “We compromise, we move forward, even when we had disagreements, We moved to resolve it quickly.”
Their budget talks are still going on and that’s exactly what Commission Chairman Heidi Shafer wants.
“The budget is the most important thing the Shelby County Commission does, overseeing the budget,” she says. “So, we want to make sure we take our time.”
And get this.
There’s a little tarnish on the yellow brick road that leads to Nashville.
Metro Council is looking at possibly a big property tax increase even with the continued boom in business and population.
“I don’t fully understand why Nashville has these budget problems with the growth they’ve had,” Mayor Strickland told me. “It’s just interesting. but I haven’t studied it that closely.”
Nobody in Memphis Government talked about a tax increase this year.
It is expected he’ll have the same response next year, the last year for his first term in office and the last year for a lot of these City Council members.