City Council Delays Sales Tax Hike Votes
Memphis City Council members delayed until their first meeting in July final votes on an ordinance setting a late summer or fall referendum on a citywide sales tax hike and a resolution designating what the revenue will be used for.
The latest delay for both measures means the city will be into the new fiscal year that begins July 1 before the sales tax hike would take effect if it is approved for the ballot and if city voters approve it on the ballot.
The delay complicates plans to use $20 million of the estimated $47 million in revenue from the half percent sales tax hike to roll back the city property tax rate by 20 cents.
Council member Shea Flinn, who proposed both measures, moved for the delay the same day that city Finance Director Brian Collins told the council it might take 14 cents added to the current city property tax rate of $3.11 to generate the same amount of revenue as the current tax rate does.
The 14 cents on the rate amounts to $14 million in lost revenue from the recent property reappraisal in which city and county government are dealing for the first time with a reappraisal that shows existing tax rates producing less revenue instead of more.
Nonprofit Alliance to Hold Conference
The Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence is holding its Eighth Annual Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence Conference on May 1 at Temple Israel.
The conference will feature national nonprofit experts, who will speak on a range of topics.
The conference will cover Guidestar’s influence on charitable investments, understanding donor-advised funds, choosing foundation priorities, and how to have tough conversations with foundations.
Keynote speaker Pat Brandes, executive director of the Barr Foundation, will speak on networking for nonprofits.
Holiday Deli Opens Horn Lake Store
Holiday Deli & Ham has opened its fifth store – which also happens to be its largest – in Horn Lake.
The nearly 5,600-square-foot store is located at 749 W. Goodman Road, and it’s open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It has a drive-thru and carry-out parking, as well as free WiFi.
Holiday Deli co-founder Trey Jordan said opening the store in Horn Lake represented an attempt to grow the company’s presence in the broader Memphis area.
Mississippi Lawmakers Finish 2013 Session
The Mississippi Legislature has ended its three-month session.
The House and Senate adjourned Thursday after finishing last-minute business, including confirmation of several nominees to lead agencies and serve on state regulatory boards.
Lawmakers approved most of a $5.5 billion budget for fiscal 2014.
But, they will have to return for a special session before July 1 to keep the Medicaid program alive and to put money into it.
Many state agencies have to be reauthorized every few years, and Medicaid was up for review this session.
The reauthorization failed amid a partisan dispute over whether to expand Medicaid under the health law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.
Democrats wanted Medicaid expansion, but Republican leaders said the state can’t afford it.
Memphis Farmers Market Returns Downtown
It’s opening week for the Memphis Farmers Market, which returns for its new season this Saturday at the Central Station Pavilion.
There will be music with JoJo Jefferies, authors Paul and Angela Knipple signing their book “The World in a Skillet,” plus the usual – fresh flowers and greens, handmade goat cheese, salads, side dishes, baked goods, local roasted coffee and more.
Hours will be from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and the farmers market is open Saturdays through October.
Trezevant Students Join Frayser Earth Day Cleanup
Trezevant High School students will join members of Leadership Memphis’ 2013 executive class to clean garbage and debris from a vacant lot in Frayser to celebrate Earth Day.
The joint effort will give Trezevant students an opportunity to improve the local environment and foster pride in their community. The cleanup also is part of Leadership Trezevant’s school-wide effort to improve academic success.
Council Approves Rehab of Memphis Slim House
The Memphis City Council approved Tuesday, April 2, a special use permit for converting the old Memphis Slim house at 1130 College St. at McLemore Avenue in Soulsville into a neighborhood arts center. Eric Robertson of Community Lift, the group undertaking the center, said the next step is to assess how much renovation the structure will need.
The house, built in 1912, was home to the blues artist known as Memphis Slim as well as his family. A fallen tree heavily damaged the small house and last year was lifted out so repairs could begin.
In other action, the council approved a planned development for the Casablanca restaurant at 2250 Central Ave. at New York Street. The current building will be demolished for a new structure.
The council also approved a Budget Rent-A-Car business at Poplar Avenue and Racine Drive in East Memphis as well as a used car lot and car wash at 1674 Delano Road in Frayser at the corner of Delano and North Watkins Street.
Charter School Authorizer Bill Passes House Panel
A measure that would create a special panel to authorize charter school applications for failing schools is advancing in the state Legislature.
The measure was approved on a voice vote in the House Budget Subcommittee on Wednesday. The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee.
Currently local school boards decide whether to authorize a charter application. There are 48 charter schools in Tennessee.
Under the new legislation, the nine-member panel would be appointed by the governor and speakers of the House and Senate.
Failing, or priority, schools would apply directly to the panel. There are about 80 failing schools.
All other schools would follow the normal process of applying to the school district, then the State Board of Education if turned down.
Rocketfuel Moves Into New Office Space
The Memphis-based Web design company Rocketfuel has moved into a new space at 88 Union Ave.
Rocketfuel packed, moved, unpacked and settled in last week to the space on the seventh floor of 88 Union Ave. And already, the company has launched several new websites for clients.
From an email the company sent to its distribution list this week: “We love our new office space and hope you will, too. Feel free to drop by anytime during business hours to check it out.”
Baker Donelson Taps Biggs For Economic Development Team
Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC has tapped attorney Lodie Biggs to be the new chair of the firm’s economic development team.
Biggs is a shareholder in the firm’s Memphis office and frequently represents companies locating or expanding within Tennessee and other jurisdictions. He also helps companies in negotiating and securing tax and other economic development incentives for their investments in the community.
As chair of the economic development team, Biggs will oversee 21 attorneys across Baker Donelson’s 18 offices.
Women Business Lunch to be Held April 9
A panel of businesswomen will share successes and challenges as part of a discussion on “How to Get the Job Done as a Woman CEO” at the National Association of Women Business Owners monthly luncheon of its Memphis chapter next week.
The event will be held April 9 at the Chickasaw Country Club, 3395 Galloway Ave. Following the discussion, a representative from Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division will present the results of a study that examined MLGW’s use of women- and minority-owned businesses.
Registration will begin at 11:15 a.m., with lunch running from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $25 for NAWBO members, $30 for nonmembers and $35 for onsite registration.
Wine Bill Stalls in Senate Finance Committee
Legislation to allow wine to be sold in Tennessee supermarkets and convenience stores has hit another road block.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee voted 5-5 on Tuesday to keep the measure from advancing. The vote came after House leaders said they didn’t want to reconsider the companion bill that earlier failed by a single vote.
Republican Senate sponsor Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro has said he wants to get the bill out of the committee in case the situation changes in the House.
Both Republican and Democratic Senate members of the Republican-sponsored bill said they didn’t see a need for it to advance if the House doesn’t plan to bring it up again.
Haslam: 'Major Problem' With Senate Nominees Bill
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he has a “major problem” with a bill seeking to give state lawmakers the power to select nominees to the U.S. Senate.
The governor said he objects to eliminating primary elections to decide the Republican and Democratic nominees for the U.S. Senate. He told reporters on Monday in Nashville that he would “very strongly” consider a veto of the measure.
The bill sponsored by Sen. Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains and fellow Republican Rep. Harry Brooks of Knoxville has been put on hold until the final Senate calendar.
Niceley says the bill is an effort to return to the system closer to the direct appointments that were in place before the adoption of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1913.
Kathleen Gomes Named Probate Court Judge
Attorney Kathleen Gomes was appointed Monday, April 1, by the Shelby County Commission as the new Probate Court judge. She will fill the vacancy created by the pending retirement of Judge Robert Benham.
Benham has delayed his retirement pending his ongoing hearing on the custody of the children of slain Memphis Police officer Martoiya Lang. The hearing was under way at the Shelby County Courthouse Monday as the commission considered his replacement a block away.
Gomes will serve through August 2014 when the winner of a full eight-year term in the August 2014 elections takes office.
Gomes won on the second round of voting by the commission, defeating state Sen. Jim Kyle.
Kyle appeared to have the seven votes to become judge of the first ballot when Commissioner Walter Bailey changed his vote for attorney and former County Commissioner Julian Bolton to Kyle. But when Bailey changed his vote for Kyle, Commissioner Steve Mulroy changed his vote for Kyle to an abstention, leaving Kyle one vote short.
The Peabody Names Additions, Promotions
The Peabody Memphis has made a few additions to and promotions within its sales department.
Angus Blair, a long-time Peabody associate, has been promoted to director of revenue management, where he is charged with driving overall revenue and forecasting future business.
Blair has worked at The Peabody Memphis since 2003 and held management positions in several departments.
Prissy Dulaney has been promoted to associate director of sales. Prior to joining The Peabody Memphis as sales manager in 2008, she held similar sales positions at several other hotels and resorts in the South.
Donna Pope has been appointed national sales manager, with territory responsibilities in the Washington market. A hospitality industry veteran, Pope has worked in hotel operations and sales management positions at several Memphis-area properties.
Marshall Thompson has joined The Peabody Memphis as national sales manager.
Thompson will have territory responsibilities in the Washington, Maryland and Virginia markets.
He comes to Memphis from Florida, where he was director of sales and marketing at the International Palms Resort & Conference Center in Orlando.
AutoZone Announces Marketing Vice President
Albert Saltiel has joined AutoZone Inc. as senior vice president of marketing and customer satisfaction.
Saltiel comes to the Memphis-based auto parts giant from Navistar International Corp., where he was chief marketing officer.
He also has worked with Sony Electronics as general manager for marketing and with Ford Motor Co., where he held multiple marketing roles.
Saltiel will report to AutoZone chairman, president and CEO Bill Rhodes.
Haslam Appropriates Funds For Cash Grants Plan
Gov. Bill Haslam is rolling out his appropriations bill, which includes nearly $45 million to increase the amount of grants available to companies looking to invest in Tennessee.
The legislation allows the state to provide Fast Track grants for retrofitting, relocation, office upgrades or temporary space for companies investing in Tennessee.
The state has appropriated more than $200 million to the program over the last three budget years and Haslam proposed pouring another $80 million for last year and this year.
Access to Justice Committee Hosts Free Legal Clinic
The Access to Justice Committee will hold a free legal clinic April 13 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library from 10 a.m. to noon.
Volunteer attorneys will provide free legal assistance on a range of subjects to clinic participants. The Saturday Legal Clinic is a collaborative effort of the Memphis Bar Association, Memphis Area Legal Services Inc., the Community Legal Center and other nonprofit organizations.
The free clinic is held on the second Saturday of each month.
Trustmark Buys Branches From SOUTHBank
Trustmark National Bank has inked a branch purchase and assumption agreement to acquire two branches of SOUTHBank to serve the Oxford, Miss., market.
The agreement reflects the assumption of about $11.8 million in deposit accounts and the purchase of branch offices.
It is subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. It is expected to be completed during the summer.
Southwest, AirTran Network Integration Complete
Nearly two years after Southwest Airlines Co.’s acquisition of AirTran Holdings Inc., the Dallas-based airline has fully integrated the two networks for flights beginning April 14.
Currently, customers can book AirTran flights in and out of Memphis, but they’ll still have to connect in other cities for Southwest flights. With the completion of the network merger, customers can purchase itineraries to more than 97 destinations in one transaction.
Southwest has said it plans to offer Southwest service at Memphis International Airport later this year.
“It’s a great interim solution, especially in Memphis, until we can introduce Southwest service later this year,” said Chris Mainz, a spokesman for the airline.
Southwest acquired AirTran in May 2011 in a $1 billion cash-and-stock deal.
Planning, Zoning Event to Feature Agyeman
The 23rd Mid-South Planning and Zoning Institute at the University of Memphis will feature a keynote address by Dr. Julian Agyeman, professor and chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Police and Planning at Tufts University in Boston.
The April 19 conference from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Fogelman Executive Conference Center is presented by the University of Memphis graduate program in City and Regional Planning.
Agyeman first wrote about the concept of “just sustainability” 10 years ago and since then has been involved in the discussion and movement that includes sustainable development in high poverty and neglected urban areas.
The concept includes such issues as food deserts and how elected bodies approach planning differently in some parts of cities.
Agyeman’s keynote speech will be followed by a panel discussion on the Shelby County Mid South Greenprint Initiative.
On Location Festival Set for Late April
The 14th annual On Location: Memphis International Film & Music Fest will be held at the end of the month.
After an opening night kick off at the Malco Paradiso on April 25, the film portion of the festival will shift to Malco’s Studio on the Square the next day.
Films are scheduled through April 28, and this year is shaping up to be one of the most diverse festivals ever, with films screening from artists based in Memphis and around the United States, as well as nearly a dozen countries.
In addition to the films screening at Studio on the Square, a variety of musicians are scheduled to perform throughout the weekend in the theater lobby and at the neighboring Bayou Bar and Grill Restaurant.
The festival’s Music Showcase events will take place at Purple Haze near Beale Street on April 26 and April 27.