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 like that.
“I look at any rate increase, or tax increase very skeptically,” he says. “You’ve got to prove to me that you have no alternative other than raising the rates or raise taxes.”
Memphis Light Gas and Water officials say they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do.
The entire system has this bad habit of not working when it rains…or its windy…or even on some sunny days.
Doing necessary work on equipment will cost about one billion dollars.
A consultant’s report recommends firing between 3-hundred and 4-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 through attrition over five years to accomplish the recommendations set forth in the study…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 Strickland says, “… the number one driver of costs is people. with city government people is probably 70 percent of our budget. When you try to drive efficiency it does affect your head count.”
Putting three or four hundred people out of work in a city where the poverty rate is increasing doesn’t help matters.
Not to mention there are plenty of folks in Memphis that often have to decide whether to spend money on food or their utility bills.
“I’ve not read the efficiency study,” says Strickland. “I’ve not seen their proposed budget. But I will go at it very skeptically, whether it’s a property tax increase or a rate increase for MLGW..”