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VOL. 130 | NO. 42 | Tuesday, March 3, 2015

City Council to Get Update Halfway Into Fiscal Year

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members return to the matter of city finances Tuesday, March 3, with a financial review in a 9:30 a.m. committee session that marks the halfway point in the city’s fiscal year.

Memphis City Council members have a third and final vote on the Tuesday, March 3, agenda on a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority.

(Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

The council also reviews the annual budget cleanup resolution at the committee session. The cleanup resolution is an annual adjustment of city finances based on how city revenues and expenditures from the first six months square with projections in both columns made at the outset of the fiscal year.

In their February “working session,” council members were told by the administration of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. that city revenues so far are $12 million ahead of estimates with city reserves at more than $80 million.

The administration also told the council there is a $12 million “overhang” of unexpected expenses. Those expenses are a result of amendments and exceptions the council and administration made to larger changes in the last calendar year to city employee and retiree health insurance and pension benefits.

The committee discussion also is expected to include the administration’s proposal to restructure the city’s debt payments.

The proposed restructure, approved by Tennessee State Comptroller Justin Wilson, would push further out a balloon in the city’s annual debt payments to $30 million now scheduled for fiscal year 2020. The balloon payment in the current debt payment schedule comes in the final fiscal year for the city to fully fund its annual required contribution on the city’s pension liability as required by state law.

Some on the council expressed opposition last month to the restructuring plan, saying it again postpones the inevitable balloon payment just as a 2010 restructuring did.

The full council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the meeting and get updates on council day committee sessions before the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols.

On the agenda for a council vote at the session is the third and final reading of the ordinance that would establish a Beale Street Tourism Development Authority.

Council attorney Allan Wade redrafted what was a resolution submitted by the administration last month. The version being considered by the council includes requiring council approval of some but not all decisions made the authority.

The authority, whose nine-member board would be nominated by the mayor and approved by the council, would guide the entertainment district’s future development plans. The authority also would hire a management firm to run the street on a day-to-day basis from revenue the city makes on Beale Street.

The transition to a development authority also would change the duties of the nonprofit Beale Street Development Corp., in place since the late 1970s. The BSDC currently holds the lease from the city, but the development authority would be the lease holder in the proposal. And the development corporation would become an organization that deals exclusively with cultural and heritage issues, including running the Historic Daisy theater, also known as the Old Daisy, as an interpretive center.

In zoning and development items, the council votes on a private cemetery to be called Sinai Memorial Gardens Cemetery on 24.1 acres of land at 4033 Raleigh Millington Road south of Tessland Avenue, the site of the old Moose Lodge.

The Office of Planning and Development issued a stop work order on the site last year after a contractor working for cemetery owner Elaine Currie took down several trees on the site without a tree survey, as required by the Unified Development Code when a developer wants to remove a certain number of trees.

The special use permit for the cemetery could include restitution for the trees being removed.

The permit also requires approval from the Memphis City Council and from Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division.

Also on the council’s agenda is a scrap metal yard on 2.1 acres at 1808 Chelsea Ave., west of McLean Street bordering Kilowatt Lake.

A World War II-era Quonset hut on the property would remain and serve as an office for the scrap company as well as a storage facility.

The section of Chelsea is known for the metal huts that are considered of historic interest and are still used for businesses in the area. One of the huts near the Chelsea-McLean intersection has a historical marker noting its past use as the Plastic Products plant where vinyl records were made.

And the council votes Tuesday on a used car lot at 1780 Getwell Road sought by Lee Nguyen. The council delayed a vote on the lot two weeks ago.

PROPERTY SALES 36 154 6,546
MORTGAGES 34 94 4,129
BANKRUPTCIES 43 126 3,396