Council, mayor works to get 'house in order' as budget deadline - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council, mayor works to get 'house in order' as budget deadline approaches

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A grueling seven hour budget session ended without a final decision Tuesday. A grueling seven hour budget session ended without a final decision Tuesday.
Memphis City Council Chairman Edmund Ford, Jr. had state leaders on his mind during budget talks. Memphis City Council Chairman Edmund Ford, Jr. had state leaders on his mind during budget talks.
"It's tough to face these situations," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton describing the budget hearing as a difficult day for employees and residents alike. "It's tough to face these situations," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton describing the budget hearing as a difficult day for employees and residents alike.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) The city says last-minute budget decisions strain resources to beat the upcoming deadline for everything to be in place. A grueling seven hour budget session ended without a final decision Tuesday.

"It's tough to face these situations," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton describing the budget hearing as a difficult day for employees and residents alike.

In the middle of budget uncertainty and another letter from the state comptroller's office, the city's administration proposed an amended budget which members voted on throughout the meeting Tuesday.

"We are still under close scrutiny as far as going forward in the budget, how we take care of those big items," said Wharton. "I'm confident as evidenced by the council's attitude [Tuesday] night we'll have those addressed by next week, too."

With 400 jobs cut, he said there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

"We will never be able to cut enough, lay off enough people to just cut our way into prosperity, but we can get our house in order," said Wharton.

In the amendment that the council passed, 300 jobs were eliminated through attrition and another 100 through layoffs. Councilman Jim Strickland said eliminating jobs through attrition will save $15.75 million.

Memphis City Council Chairman Edmund Ford, Jr. had state leaders on his mind during budget talks.

"I am in office to make sure the betterment of Memphis is taken care of," said Ford. "I know when talking to the comptroller ... I know he wanted to make sure we could pay our debt make sure we had some money in fund balance and then making sure we're taken care of the city."

He predicts some sort of tax increase in the next fiscal year. His pitch is a three cent hike on the tax rate from 3.11 to 3.24.

"If we do have to have any type of tax increase, let's make sure that whatever we increase our tax rate to that [then] that money goes to fund balance paying ... Our debt and goes to the citizens of Memphis in community service areas," said Ford.

A salary increase for city workers failed 6-6 Tuesday.

"I am not against 4.6 percent restoration, but we need to get our house in order first before we consider it. It's not my number one priority," he said.

The budget needs to be passed before June 30 as the state comptroller could take over the city budget if issues are not addressed. The fiscal year 2014 starts July 1.

Chairman Ford has confidence that the council will get it done.

"We're putting $5 or $10 million in reserves, we're paying our $20 [to ] $30 million dollar debt. We're putting $15 [to] $20 million for infrastructure for public services," said Ford.

Seven votes are needed now more than ever, next Tuesday June 25 could be the day a deal is reached.

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