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VOL. 131 | NO. 53 | Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Finances Will Be in Focus at City Council

By Bill Dries

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The list of financial surprises that Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland presented to Memphis City Council members two weeks ago tops council discussions Tuesday, March 15.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland talks with Memphis City Council members about a series of financial surprises for his administration that will likely have a big impact on the budget proposal he’s putting together to present to the council next month.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Plus there is the pending deannexation bill in the Tennessee Legislature that Strickland estimated could cost the city $80 million in property and sales tax revenue if passed in either of its current forms.

Strickland has said that defeating the legislation is the city’s top priority in Nashville.

The financial surprises Strickland outlined earlier this month are his top five priorities at home a month from presenting his first budget proposal to the council.

Those surprises total $136 million over the next five fiscal years. Strickland said then that he didn’t know until he took office in January of the added expenses incurred during the previous administration of Mayor A C Wharton.

The most expensive is an estimated $60 million for a new police and fire radio system that the consultant to both departments says should be done in the next two fiscal years.

Strickland reviews that item with council members Tuesday at the 2 p.m. executive session.

He also reviews the deannexation bill as well as the coming move of residents out of Foote Homes, the city’s last large public housing development.

Another issue is the relocation of residents out of the Tulane and Warren apartment complexes. The two apartment complexes are owned by Global Ministries Foundation and are supported by federal rent subsidies ended by the federal department of Housing and Urban Development this month.

The withdrawal of the subsidies from HUD was announced after both complexes failed their second federal code inspection in January.

The Foote Homes relocation for a redevelopment, which is part of the larger mixed-use, mixed-income South City project, is also the subject of a 10:30 a.m. committee session.

Council members have questioned whether they ever gave final approval to the specific plans to demolish Foote Homes.

The city was awarded a $30 million HUD grant for the project in the closing months of the Wharton administration. The Choice Neighborhoods competitive grant was a priority for Wharton and one that Strickland agreed with.

But Strickland didn’t know that the federal grant came with a requirement that city government match it with another $30 million over five fiscal years.

Also up for discussion in Tuesday committee sessions is an offer by NCE Realty and Capital LLC to buy the old Central Police Station at 128 Adams Ave. for $1.1 million.

The company made the offer in a tentative purchase agreement dated December of 2015, in the gap between the city elections in which Strickland beat Wharton and when Strickland took office in January. The tentative agreement called for the deal to close by Feb. 20.

The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the meeting @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, as well as get updates from the committee sessions earlier in the council day.

On the agenda, the council will set a date for a public hearing and vote on plans for the Parkside at Shelby Farms Park on the northern border of the park which includes three apartment buildings of six-stories each.

In other planning and development items on Tuesday’s agenda, the council considers a special permit for granite mausoleums and crypts that are the latest phase of the Serenity Columbarium & Memorial Garden on Sycamore View Road northwest of Shelby Oaks Drive.

The memorial garden is north of the circa-1987 shopping center that former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr. and investors bought and opened in late 2013 as a funeral home and crematory with an indoor columbarium.

The garden will include blocks holding the urns of ashes of those cremated either in vaults or in display cases that can be viewed remotely around the clock.

The council also votes on two hotels on Union Avenue – a six-story, 115-room Holiday Inn Express at 235 Union Ave. on the southwest corner of Union and Fourth Street, and a seven-story, 143-room Hilton Garden Inn at 195 Union on the southeast corner of Union and Hernando. Both projects are owned by hotel developer Nitinkumar Patel.

The two hotels are on the block of Union Avenue between Hernando and Fourth streets. There would be a gap between the two hotels.

And up for the first of two readings is a rezoning of the east side of Prescott Road north of Raines Road from single-family residential to employment district for Delta Wholesale Liquors Inc.

The 5 acres is north of Delta’s existing business at 3676 E. Raines Road and the business plans to use the land for an employee parking lot.

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426