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VOL. 126 | NO. 150 | Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Council Approves MCS Funding

By Bill Dries

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The Memphis City Council approved a funding agreement with the Memphis City Schools system Tuesday, Aug. 2, that almost guarantees the MCS school year will begin on Aug. 8 on schedule.

MCS superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash told council members he was “appreciative” and said the approval was a “tremendous relief” to teachers and parents wondering if school would start on time.

The school system has been preparing as if that would happen. But the school board approved a resolution last month that left open the possibility of delaying the school year’s start until the school system got all of the funding it was due from the city.

The resolution was what led to the payment agreement.

Cash said he hoped the city would make the first scheduled payment of $12 million by Aug. 5, three days before the first day of classes. He also said he was confident the city would.

The funding agreement pays MCS $68.4 million for the current fiscal year and another $8.8 million due from the prior fiscal year to give the school system $77 million of the $78 million it sought in city funding.

The school system’s total operating budget is $884.7 million. The council approves the total amount even though it doesn’t fund the total amount and has no line item control.

In other action, the council met with its attorney as well as city attorneys in private meetings Tuesday before deferring action on an impasse item with the Memphis Fire Fighters Association and an effort to roll back 4.6 percent pay cuts for city employees that take effect this month.

Council attorney Allan Wade and the city attorney’s office each advised the council that any discussion or action by them on the matters would compromise the city’s position in a federal lawsuit filed by 13 of the unions representing city employees.

Union leaders insisted the impasse issue which involved appeals of binding arbitration did not touch on areas of the lawsuit. Wade and assistant city attorney Gerald Thornton vigorously disagreed.

The lawsuit specifically seeks an injunction that would stop the city from carrying out the pay cut.

After weeks of delay, the council approved two resolutions that create the financing for the next round of development in the Uptown area including the Uptown West area north of The Pyramid by the Wolf River and the Wolf River Harbor.

The resolutions include raising the maximum grant or loan amount from the city administered Uptown Commercial Rehabilitation program from $50,000 to $500,000. That would allow for a loan to finance construction or renovation of a long planned supermarket in the area.

The redevelopment agency created by the tax increment financing district designation in Uptown would also issue $32 million of bonds financed by the revenue from incremental property tax increases in the area.

The council also accepted and approved a combined $210,000 in funding for architecture and engineering services for a Harahan Bridge Boardwalk for bikes and pedestrians to cross the Mississippi River. Of the total, $171,000 comes from city bond money. The remaining $39,000 comes from Aerobic Cruisers Hybrid Cycles LCC, the bicycle company of Charles McVean. It is McVean who has spearheaded the construction of the boardwalk on the north side of the rail bridges.

The bond money is part of $371,000 in funding the city had planned to use for bluff repairs near the National Ornamental Metal Museum but is now reallocating.

And the council set an Aug. 16 hearing date for a proposed two lot subdivision on Poplar Avenue at Belle Meade Lane that was rejected in June by the Land Use Control Board.

PROPERTY SALES 74 74 17,939
MORTGAGES 95 95 20,660
BUILDING PERMITS 141 141 36,977
BANKRUPTCIES 59 59 11,485