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VOL. 132 | NO. 83 | Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Bill Dries

Last Word: Popovich's Tip, Strickland's Budget and Haslam's Jump Start on Roads

By Bill Dries

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Game 5 goes to the Spurs in San Antonio 116-103 over the Grizz who are back here Thursday. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is not effusive in his comments to the media, which is fun to watch, but it does make tracking down and veryifying this next story a bit difficult. A credit card receipt showed up on Redditt that appears to show Popovich left a $5,000 tip on an $815.73 bill at McEwen’s Friday night between the two Memphis-based playoff games.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland taking up the “Take That For Data” battle cry as he made his annual budget presentation Tuesday at City Hall with the council finishing a busy agenda well in time to watch the proceedings in Texas.

Here are a few line items from our cursory look at the capital budget book, which didn’t get mentioned much in what was a very short budget address.

Public Works is the largest division by dollar line item with $26.5 million in capital projects during the fiscal year and by far the largest line item within that amount is $18.5 million for asphalt/paving.

General Services is the runner up with a $20.4 million set of six items for the year. The largest is $9.9 million for the citywide fleet of cars and trucks.

There is a $6 million line item under Housing and Community Development for the demolition this coming fiscal year of Foote Homes, the city’s last large public housing development that is to become part of the larger South City mixed-use mixed-income development.

Memphis Area Transit Authority capital funding from the city is steady at $6.9 million. But in the gas tax bill approved this week by the Legislature and awaiting the governor’s signature there is a local option that could allow the council to put a measure on the city ballot to create a dedicated source of MATA funding to voters. However, a gas tax referendum for MATA has faiiled at the polls in recent years.

Here is a link to the administration’s full array of budget material – operating and capital – in all of its unbound glory. We bear no responsibility for any emotional reactions that may result from discussions about reprogrammed funds, debt service or sanitary sewer lift stations.

No funding for Shelby County Schools in the budget proposal that a local coalition had urged Strickland to include. And Strickland has formally responded to the letter from the group much along the lines of what he told us last week. He also added that city residents do fund Shelby County Schools through the county property taxes they pay.

Almost stealing the show from the mayor’s budget proposal Tuesday was the council weighing in on the biggest Midtown controversy since the Overton Park Greensward – Railgarten. The indoor-outdoor bar-recreation area is due at the Board of Adjustment Wednesday on the outdoor part of the development and the Office of Planning and Development is recommending that the board not grant the permit for the outdoor area the owners are looking for. The council voted to ask the board to delay the whole thing for 30 days because while the council approved this, it only approved the indoor part and didn’t know anything about the outdoor parts that were apparently added later. OPD, as it is known, also says the parking situation is something that probably can’t be made right. Underlying the call for a delay is a real question about which of the bodies – the council or the board of adjustment acts first on this.

Speaking of the Greensward, Richard Smith of the Memphis Zoo board has made a $150,000 challenge gift to the Overton Park Conservancy’s effort to raise $1.5 million as its half of a $3 million expansion and reconfiguration of zoo parking. The conservancy has by June 11 to raise its half with the zoo saying it has already raised its half.

In the Tennessee Legislature:

There was more movement in the Tennessee Legislature Tuesday related to Monday’s passage of Gov. Bill Haslam’s gas tax bill. The amendments from Haslam include a $55 million infusion for the state transportation fund to jump start projects that will benefit later once the gas tax bill itself kicks in. The move of money to the fund now means you should see road work much sooner.

And our Nashville correspondent Sam Stockard tells us there was an “I told you so” moment for Haslam with new March revenue numbers that fell short of the state’s estimates. It’s not viewed as a trend. But it goes to Haslam’s point that the state shouldn’t commit its surplus to road projects because it could be needed for reports like the one Tuesday that just might be a trend.

Stockard also runs down some items in the supplemental budget for Memphis and the state at large.

On its way to Haslam for his signature, a bill that opens Tennessee Bureau of Investigation files from the TBI’s investigation of officer-involved fatal shootings. This peels back part of an existing state law that makes all TBI records, no matter what they are, closed to the public except by seeking a court order. That’s just what District Attorney General Amy Weirich has done here starting with the TBI investigation of the Darrius Stewart shooting in 2015 by Memphis Police Officer Connor Schilling. The Stewart case ruling by Chancellor Jim Newsom set a precedent that no doubt played a role in the passage of the bill.

A bill to grant limited immunity from drug possession and drug paraphernalia charges for those who overdose sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Lee Harris of Memphis failed on the Senate floor Tuesday.

On both sides of the state line where Fayette County and Marshall County meet just east of Collierville there is the Gateway Global Logistics Center built by Panattoni Development that holds $276 million in investment and 700 jobs within its 4.4 million square feet of industrial space. And Gateway is about to start Phase 2 north of Highway 72.

Some notes from First Horizon’s annual shareholders meeting Tuesday include a 40 percent total shareholder return for the banking company in 2016; average loans up at First Tennessee by 15 percent during the year. And Operation HOPE, the financial literacy organization with a focus on underserved communities we told you a bit about earlier this month when its founder John Hope Bryant was in town, will have locations in 15 First Tennessee branches by the end of 2017.

The average air fare at Memphis International has dropped $176 since 2012.

The saga of who runs Beale Street continues to be what it has probably been since before any of us were born – complex.

Some thoughts on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement from NASCAR and commitments to the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June from three names you know.

PROPERTY SALES 23 23 1,365
MORTGAGES 21 21 1,068
BUILDING PERMITS 117 117 3,173