VOL. 132 | NO. 82 | Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Council to Consider Plans, Raises, ‘Basics’ in Strickland's Budget
By Bill Dries
In his second budget presentation as Memphis mayor Tuesday, April 24, expect Jim Strickland to continue to talk about city government being “brilliant at the basics.”
And expect pay raise proposals for Memphis police, more moves to reduce blight and possibly further word on a coming change in how the city collects solid waste, possibly with a solid waste fee hike, depending on the restructuring option the council approves.
What isn’t included in Strickland’s budget address to the Memphis City Council is a specific dollar figure for a recertified city property tax rate that takes into account the 2017 countywide property reappraisal. With property values increasing in the reappraisal, the city tax rate of $3.40 would drop so as not to create more revenue than the city currently takes in from the property tax rate.
The council meets at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St., with Strickland’s budget address at the top of the agenda. Follow the meeting live @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols and also get updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.
City council budget committee chairman Edmund Ford Jr. hopes to at least come close to last year’s budget approval, with a no-debate unanimous vote with no budget amendments.
But Ford also wants any pay raises in Strickland’s proposal separated out, especially if Strickland follows through on pay raises only for police and not other city employees.
“The last thing in the world I would want to form is a paradigm shift where we only incentivize those individuals with badges and not those other individuals who are also part of city government,” Ford said. “Sometimes their jobs can be as dangerous if not more dangerous than a police officer or a firefighter.”
Strickland has said increasing police ranks is a top priority for his administration. It was also what he ran on in the 2015 city elections.
Ford and other council members will also be watching to see how much of an annual increase the administration proposes to fund the pension liability for city employees. By state law, the liability must be fully funded by the city by 2020.
Further down the council agenda Tuesday are several items that are connected to Strickland’s budget plans and priorities for the city in the fiscal year that starts July 1.
They include the first of three votes on the Pinch District Concept Study that is part of the “Gateway” plan for the Memphis Cook Convention Center area and specifically the nine blocks between the Pyramid and the campus of St. Jude Children’s Research Center.
At a 1:30 p.m. budget committee session, council members will continue discussions on an administration proposal to have EDGE – the Economic Development Growth Engine – loan the city money to prepay an existing loan for Pyramid redevelopment improvements the city previously got from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. The EDGE loan would be repaid with revenues from the Downtown Tourism Development Zone.
The council also has its second discussion this month at the 2:30 p.m. executive session on changes in the solid waste fee to go with changes in what city crews pick up and when they pick it up.
Two anti-blight measures are on Tuesday’s agenda for the first of three readings. One would move inspection duties from the fire department to the public works division. With the inspection duties under public works, the city would then offer a program to waive city liens for fees and penalties on properties for those buying abandoned or vacant residential and commercial properties.
The other related first reading ordinance Tuesday creates an anti-blight grant program.
In planning and development items, the council votes Tuesday on a convenience store at South Parkway East and Interstate 240 by Spire Enterprises. The Land Use Control Board is recommending rejection of the planned development.
The council also votes on a special-use permit for the hotel in the Central Station building that is a major part of the redevelopment of the train station property at South Main Street and G.E. Patterson Avenue.
Also on the agenda is a planned development on Austin Peay Highway north of Singleton Parkway in Raleigh. The planned development was proposed and granted in 1998, but the time limit on it and a five-year extension ran out.
Markle LTD is proposing a physical rehabilitation hospital or clinic.