Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris on budget: overall, not bad

Local News

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris says all that work on the budget has resulted in a pretty good budget. He’s not happy with everything, but overall, not bad.

It all happened during a long, and I do mean long, meeting of the Shelby County Commission on Monday. The meeting lasted around nine hours.

They could have used a nap. The clock was ticking away; the law says a new budget had to be in place by July 1st.

Mayor Lee Harris says they did pretty good even without a nappie-poo.

“It did fund a lot of initiatives like homelessness services,” he said, “… education, Pre-K, the Shelby County Youth Council, $15 dollars an hour for seasonal election workers.”

Don’t forget money for new election machines, and $2.5-million for the Memphis Area Transit Authority. It’s the first time Shelby County has ever spent its money on bus service.

A big deal says folks with the Bus Riders Union.

“Right now, I’m satisfied with the $2.5 million,” says Sammie Hunter of the Bus Riders Union, “… because we weren’t getting anything from the county in previous years.”

But here’s how they got all of this stuff without raising taxes.

They went into the Shelby County Emergency Fund, sort of a savings account, and took more than $6-million to pay for a lot of these new programs.

“I’m very concerned about that,” Mayor Harris says. “We will just have to manage our operations as best we can. But there will probably have to be some limitations on hiring put in place, because of the way they used resources to fund all the various initiatives.”

Mayor Harris is already thinking of next year’s budget. A year with more demands, and not as much money available in the county savings account.

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