Battle over budget rages at city hall - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Battle over budget rages at city hall

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With the third and final reading scheduled for later Tuesday evening, the battle over the budget rages at city hall. With the third and final reading scheduled for later Tuesday evening, the battle over the budget rages at city hall.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - The Memphis City Council is trying to balance the city's budget before the state is forced to take over. With the third and final reading scheduled for later Tuesday evening, the battle over the budget rages at city hall.

"There are no easy answers to this," said Mayor A C Wharton after a lively discussion in front of the city council budget committee. "There are no painless choices, I'll put it that way."

The city's administration proposed an amended budget that includes a property tax increase from the current base rate of $3.11 per hundred of assessed value to $3.51. In addition, the plan proposes buying out 300 full-time city employees and laying off another 100 city employees.

"This budget does not solve the debt issue once and for all, although it goes a long way," said Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

The directors of each department said the administration's current proposal threatens public safety as Memphis knows it. Memphis police director Toney Armstrong said this amended budget proposal would result in the loss of 190 officers and a reduction in public safety services.

Ultimately, the city council must approve a budget in some form or fashion.

"I believe that layoffs must occur today," said councilman Myron Lowery. "This city is in a financial crisis situation ... almost."

Councilman Shea Flinn said the choice is simple – more fees, fewer services, or some combination.

"This is not complicated. This is not a crisis of finances. This is a crisis of will. We have to address this," said Flinn.

So far, the full council has been addressing other issues on Tuesday night's council agenda. The budget item has not been addressed yet and will likely go deep into the evening before any decisions are made.

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