Council to Tackle Budget Leftovers

By Bill Dries

Meeting for a third consecutive Tuesday, Memphis City Council members take up a few budget leftovers Tuesday, July 2, but also get to some items delayed because of the unusual budget deliberations.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow live Tweets from the council session at

Council members get an update on loose ends with the fiscal year 2014 budgets and tax rate including a 4-cent tax hike they approved last week during a 1:30 p.m. executive session.

Memphis City Council members will tie up some loose budget ends at their meeting Tuesday, July 2, and move on to some items delayed by the budget season.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

But with the political heavy lifting done last week, the council faces an agenda Tuesday with a full slate of planning and zoning items that were delayed two weeks ago during the council’s last regular meeting.

The cases include Lee’s Business Center, a retail center on the southeast corner of College Road and McLemore Street in the Soulsville section of South Memphis. Original plans called for gas pumps, but those gas sales have been amended out of the plan after running afoul of the Unified Development Code.

And the council will vote on the planned development amendment to the partially developed “Galleria of Memphis” on Germantown Parkway at Market Plaza Drive in Cordova. Tombo Properties Inc. is seeking to add a car sales, leasing and servicing operation to the 250-acre site that would not front Germantown Parkway.

The council also has a slate of ordinances up for third and final reading.

They include an ordinance by council member Lee Harris that would exempt vehicle owners living in the city of Memphis from having their cars and trucks inspected annually.

The council last year cut all city funding to the inspection services effective with the new fiscal year that began this week and the inspections stations were closed by the city Friday, June 28.

Harris has said he intends to make the exemption retroactive to July 1 as the city, Shelby County government and the state of Tennessee are at a standoff on how and when the inspections will continue and who will pay for them.

The council faces an agenda Tuesday with a full slate of planning and zoning items that were delayed two weeks ago during the council’s
last regular meeting.

The council votes on third and final reading of council member Kemp Conrad’s resolution that would ban pension “double dipping” by city employees who retire and then come back to work for the city or who retire and hold jobs with other government-related entities.

The council is expected to delay until July 16 a vote on third and final reading of an ordinance to put a half-percent city sales tax increase on the ballot for Memphis voters later this year.

Council members Jim Strickland and Shea Flinn, the sponsors of the ballot question, indicated earlier that they would probably not pursue the referendum if the council increased the city property tax rate, which the council did at its June 25 meeting.

Up for the second of three readings is a new plan for Memphis Police to handle repeated false alarm calls from burglar alarms. One of the amendments would create a “do not respond” list that dispatchers would use, placing on it users who tally at least seven false alarms in a year and alarm users who don’t have the proper permit and don’t get it within a month after being cited.

The original ordinance to fine alarm owners after at least six false alarms in a month was approved by the council in 1999 and police say it has cut the number of false alarm calls significantly but not enough.

Of 96,949 total alarm calls in 2008, Memphis Police statistics show only 899 were good alarm calls. More than half – 52,000 – were false alarms with no citation from the Metro Alarm Board. And another 27,000 were false alarms in which officers wrote a ticket and it remained in force by the board or cases where the security company canceled the alarm call.

Former Memphis City Council member John Vergos is at the council’s personnel committee at 9 a.m. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. reappointed Vergos to the Memphis Area Transit Authority board. The full council will vote on the reappointment at its 3:30 p.m. meeting.

Vergos begins a new term on the board as the transit authority considers cuts to service that come with a reduced city funding to MATA in the fiscal year that began this week. The council restored some of the funding cut by the administration but not all of it.