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VOL. 132 | NO. 250 | Tuesday, December 19, 2017

City Council May Vote To Phase In MLGW Rate Hikes

By Bill Dries

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Memphis City Council members vote Tuesday, Dec. 19, on a set of water, gas and electric rate hikes recommended by Memphis Light, Gas and Water Division to take effect next month.

A council committee is recommending the electric and gas-rate increases be phased in over several years.

During committee sessions two weeks ago, a council committee recommended:

• Electric rates increasing by 2.3 percent each of the next three years. For the first year, the average monthly residential increase would be $2.62.

• Gas rates increasing 4.5 percent each of the next two years. The average monthly residential increase the first year would be $1.62.

• Water rates increasing 1 percent next year for a monthly residential average increase of 18 cents.

Increased revenue from the water rate would go toward better mapping of the Memphis aquifer, and specifically identifying holes or gaps in the clay layer that protects the city’s water supply. The gas and electric rate revenue would go toward maintaining 90 operating days of cash on hand in each of those utility divisions.

MLGW executives offered several options for the rate hikes, including options to spread out the increases over several years.

Council members also have a final vote scheduled Tuesday on the ordinance that lays out options for Confederate monuments in city parks if there is no state action permitting the city to remove them – specifically the statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park.

The city administration set a Dec. 19 deadline for mediation efforts requested by the state to get underway. Those talks with descendants of Forrest and the Sons of Confederate Veterans would come in lieu of a hearing before an administrative law judge. The hearing is on the city’s claim that it does not need the consent of the Tennessee Historical Commission to remove the statue of Forrest, a Confederate general, slave trader and Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, because it does not qualify as a war monument under state law.

JIM STRICKLAND

The hearing was delayed to mid-December and was recently delayed again to Jan. 16. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has said his goal is to have the matter resolved by the end of 2017 and the monument removed and/or relocated by the April observances of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 sanitation workers strike and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Alternative measures the council is considering include closing Health Sciences Park to everyone and erecting a memorial to lynching victims in the plaza around Forrest’s statue.

The council meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. Follow the council session @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, for live coverage of that and other matters on the council agenda as well as updates from committee sessions earlier in the council day.

The council also votes Tuesday on the second of three readings of ordinances that:

• Allow open alcohol containers on Main Street between Exchange and E.H. Crump Boulevard.

• Change rules for selection committees and decision-making in the city’s public art program. The program requires 1 percent of city capital expenditures to be spent on public art.

• Change notice rules to neighborhoods for marathons and similar events and establish appeals to the council for permits to such events.

• Set a November 2018 referendum on a ballot question that would extend the limit of two consecutive terms for the mayor and city council members to a three-term limit.

If approved on second reading, which will probably be without debate as part of the council’s consent agenda Tuesday, the third and final vote on each of the measures would be at the first council session in January. On third and final reading, each of the items would be debated and voted on separately.

Also on the council’s agenda Tuesday is approval of SkyCop security cameras for the Epping Way entrance to the Wolf River Greenway in Raleigh with a value of $5,980 for the cameras and system donated by the Wolf River Conservancy.

Olymbec USA LLC is also donating SkyCop security cameras at the intersection of Norbrook Drive and East Brooks Road in Whitehaven with a value of $6,780.

The resolutions are part of a set of eight on Tuesday’s agenda for surveillance cameras with private groups and donors putting up the money totaling $69,820.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 20 39 190
BUILDING PERMITS 0 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 17 135 753
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 53 329
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0