You know, when you get a group of people together, they talk about things that affect them daily.
Things like Memphis Light, Gas, and Water’s rate hike request.
It is a big deal.
People at a South Memphis luncheon know living in Memphis is not easy.
The working-class people of this city often have to choose between eating dinner or paying a bill.
Poverty still tears at the seams of Memphis, even if the percentage of people at or below the poverty level has dropped over the years.
“It is now, 24.6%,” Mayor Jim Strickland told the luncheon crowd. “It is still way too high, and we need to keep working on it.”
The cold weather of winter is coming.
It will visit a city where home insulation often doesn’t exist.
A city where the Memphis Light, Gas, and Water bill is a real life nightmare.
Especially if utility officials get their request to raise rates by more than $16 a month by 2021.
“Since my days on the council,” Mayor Strickland said, “… I view any tax hike or rate hike with skepticism, and that’s what I think we ought to do. I would not say I would not support anything like that, but it has to be justified.”
Frankly Mayor Jim Strickland can’t do much. The city council decides how much money they’ll get.
But the mayor says MLGW has to do something about its infrastructure problems, and somebody has to pay for that.
“I think there’s universal agreement on that,” the Mayor says, “… so you’ve got those two things; the need for better infrastructure and nobody wants to pay higher fees. There’s got to be a balance, so I’m going to start digging in on it and see if I can help.”