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VOL. 129 | NO. 216 | Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Council Votes Down Elvis Presley Boulevard Car Lot

By Bill Dries

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The Memphis City Council voted down Tuesday, Nov. 4, the move of a used car lot on land owned by Graceland to a lot further north on Elvis Presley Boulevard near the new 450-room resort style hotel Elvis Presley Enterprises is building.

The Hot Wheels car lot had leased space from Graceland. But Hot Wheels lost its lease as Graceland expands in other ways to property it has long owned that is on the other side of the mansion’s northern boundary.

Elvis Presley Enterprises didn’t oppose the move of Hot Wheels further north of the boulevard but council member Harold Collins, whose district includes the area, did based on opposition from neighbors who would live east of the proposed location.

The council vote on the special use permit was 0-10.

In other action the council approved the nomination by Mayor A C Wharton Jr. of Antonio Adams as the city’s new General Services Division director. Adams had been General Services deputy director under Martha Lott who left City Hall last month to become director of county government’s Community Services division.

The council approved on the first of three readings the ordinances that would put in place the hybrid pension plan proposed by Wharton for all new hires in city government as well as all employees with under 10 years of service. Also approved on the first of three readings Tuesday was the alternate proposal by council member Myron Lowery to apply the same hybrid pension plan to new hires only.

Any pension changes approved by the council on third and final reading in December would take effect in January 2016.

The hybrid pension plan is a combination of a market-based plan and a 401-k like plan. Wharton originally proposed a move to a defined contributions plan similar to the 401-k plan many private sector employees have.

The council also approved five resolutions for the management of a total of $100 million in investments from the Memphis Light Gas and Water Division OPEB (other post employment benefits) Trust Fund and the MLGW Retirement and Pension fund.

The four firms approve to manage the money are: GoldenTree Asset Management LP, WP Global Partners Private Debt CoInvestment Fund III, Medley Capital LLC and Courage Capital Management LLC.

In council committees Tuesday, the administration rolled out a rebranded pay-as-you-throw garbage and trash collection service that judging from council comments faces an uphill battle to garner seven votes on the body.

Public Works director Dwan Gilliom said the additional fees for curbside pickup of anything that doesn’t go into the city’s green containers and the new, larger recyclables container -- including for bags of leaves and anything else is necessary to close a $10 million gap in revenues projected for the city fund that pays for garbage pick up.

The SMART – Save Money and Reduce Trash – initiative would take a specific form through a committee as well as a “public education” program followed by a study.

The specific options could include free landfill days for residents to take waste the city would charge extra for to the dump, tags for bags of garbage including leaves that cost more and incentives for landscaping and similar professional services firms to take tree trimmings and yard waste to a landfill themselves.

The incentives would include the firms getting free mulch for the trimmings and yard waste they take to the landfill.

Council member Janis Fullilove said instead of taking items to a landfill on free days, some Memphians would simply dump them illegally in other places.

“We cannot continue knocking on the door of an impoverished city,” council member Wanda Halbert said.

Gilliom said he agreed and that the fees for extra services would target commercial users of the city services that he says are overwhelming the city and creating the revenue gap. A new system, he argued, could lead to a reduction in the monthly fee for homeowners who use just the two containers issued by the city with no extra charges.

“We cannot operate in the same way we are operating and close a $10 million gap,” he said.

Council chairman Jim Strickland questioned why the city doesn’t move to “managed competition” for such garbage pick-up which would involve private companies bidding to do the services as well as city employees forming their own entities to contract to do the services.

Other council members countered that the city’s limited use of private contractors of some routes got off to a rough start earlier this year with missed pick-ups.

No council vote on moving ahead with the formation of a committee as a first step is scheduled at this time.

PROPERTY SALES 28 290 16,197
MORTGAGES 33 165 10,087
BUILDING PERMITS 184 608 38,544
BANKRUPTCIES 33 125 7,597