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VOL. 127 | NO. 95 | Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Second Budget Vote Tops Agenda

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members take the second of three votes Tuesday, May 15, on a city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 as well as a property tax rate for the fiscal year to come.

But the council is still weighing its options and gathering information through a budget committee that continues meeting Tuesday morning at City Hall.

The council meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St.

The council is scheduled to vote on a planned development at the Crescent Center, at Poplar Avenue and Ridgeway Road for two freestanding restaurants on 10.4 acres of land.

The council also considers a resolution for a special-use permit to allow a soup kitchen at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue and Claybrook Street.

The council will also vote on approving a $2.1 million financial assistance grant contract between the city and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The federal funding contract is in behalf of the Cargill Corn Milling rail project on Presidents Island. No city match is required.

The grant contract would go with $3 million in a state Fast Track Infrastructure Program grant the city has also applied for. The city has committed an additional $3 million in local funding to the $13.1 million project as well. Cargill is putting in $4.9 million.

Also on the council’s agenda Tuesday is the return of council member Edmund Ford Jr.’s proposal to raise the city’s hotel-motel occupancy, or “bed,” tax by 2.7 percent to fund city-owned attractions including several museums. The council delayed the proposal last February after it drew vocal opposition from the city’s tourism industry.

Meanwhile, a 1:40 p.m. committee session will explore several proposals by Ford, including a motor vehicle inspection fee and a rental property permit fee.

Another ordinance on the committee list would allow a waiver of auto inspections for financial hardship when a car fails the emissions test twice and the owner has made a certain amount of repairs.

The threshold dollar amount for parts and labor related to the inspection failure is on a sliding scale tied to the age of the car. The estimates and repair work must have been done by a repair technician certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence.

The minimum repair amount to get the exemption for cars that are 1996 models and newer is $650. The minimum is $200 for 1981-1985 model year vehicles. And $75 is the minimum for 1980 model cars and older.

There are also income guidelines starting with one person making no more than $16,245 and going up to a family of eight with an income of $55,515. Those applying for the hardship exemption must also provide copies of federal income tax returns within the past two years.

Council member Shea Flinn is reviving the idea of an adult entertainment district for strip clubs and adult bookstores is to be discussed at the 2:45 p.m. executive session.

The council has considered the idea several times in the last 25 years, most recently in 1993. The idea came up then as council members and other city leaders talked of ways to better regulate strip clubs then run and owned by Danny Owens.

The 1993 discussion ended as council members debated whose council district such an area would be located in.

Flinn is proposing an ad hoc committee of nine appointed by the Memphis Mayor to include representatives of the Memphis Police Department, the Shelby County District Attorney General, the City Attorney and the EDGE board. One City Council member and one Shelby County Commissioner would also be on the committee.

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