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VOL. 130 | NO. 102 | Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Council Budget Committee Recommends $2.5 Million for Brewery Project

By Bill Dries

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With a majority of the 13-member Memphis City Council present, the council’s budget committee voted Tuesday, May 26, to recommend $2.5 million in city capital funding for the remake of the Tennessee Brewery as a residential development.

The recommendation goes to the full council next week for discussion and possibly a final decision.

It’s one of several recommendations the budget committee made in what was likely its next to last session before the full council votes on a city operating budget.

That vote by the full council is now scheduled for the council’s June 16 session. It had originally been scheduled for the June 2 council session.

But the council won’t have a report it commissioned by Segal Consulting of Atlanta on the city’s health care fund by the June 2 meeting.

The council is at less than $1 million in terms of net spending added to the $656.5 million operating budget proposed by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. in April.

But that doesn’t include pay raises several council impasse committees have approved for various city employee groups after the administration took the position there should be no pay raises for city employees in the fiscal year to come.

The city has since proposed a 0.5 percent pay hike that several bargaining units have accepted. But employees including Memphis police and firefighters were granted larger raises by impasse committees – three percent in the case of police and firefighters.

Wharton also proposed in April a $55 million capital budget which is $10 million below the $65 million cap on annual capital spending the mayor and council agreed to several years ago.

The $2.5 million in city capital funding for the brewery project would be for deferred maintenance on the 19th century structure which is being redeveloped by 495 Tennessee LLC as a $28 million project including a public parking garage and a new six-story apartment building on the now open lot north of the brewery building.

The city funding was moved by council member Edmund Ford Jr., whose district includes the brewery.

In other budget committee recommendations, council members recommended cutting the council’s budget for lunches in half – from $7,000 to $3,500 with the idea that the food in the council office twice a month on council days will be for council staff only and not for council members. The proposal was made by council member Harold Collins.

The committee also recommended cutting more than $500,000 from the General Services division budget. Of that amount, $200,000 was to be used to replace uniform Memphis Police officers at City Hall with private security guards. The remaining $225,000 was to be used to relocate the general services maintenance area near the northwest corner of East Parkway and Poplar Avenue in Overton Park to the site of the old Walter Simmons public housing development in southeast Memphis.

The general services area in Overton Park is being considered as the site for a new museum of the works of Memphis photographer William Eggleston. But no formal proposal has been made yet by the Wharton administration.

And a contract for the Eggleston museum to be located on the city land in the park would have to be approved by the council. Council members indicated Tuesday they would approve the funding for the general services move if and when they approve the museum plan.

The budget committee also approved cutting $364,000 from the mayor’s office or executive branch that was to staff up the administration’s plan to promote minority business development.

Council members said they were concerned the effort was focused more on who would run the program than how the program would work.

The budget committee voted down or recommended against a budget amendment by Collins to give all city employees not represented by a bargaining unit or union a one-month 3-percent bonus that would cost the city less than $1 million.

PROPERTY SALES 53 210 10,146
MORTGAGES 53 214 11,160
BUILDING PERMITS 245 474 22,646
BANKRUPTCIES 271 271 6,490