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VOL. 132 | NO. 122 | Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Council to Shore Up Budget Loose Ends, Talk Beale Street, DROP and UrbanArt

By Bill Dries

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The Memphis City Council hopes to wrap up the budget season Tuesday, June 20, as only a few loose ends remain to be resolved. (Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

Memphis City Council members have done most of the heavy lifting and taken votes on the major items that end the budget season at City Hall.

But they still have a few loose ends to wrap at their Tuesday, June 20, session.

Those include votes on third and final reading of ordinances that would raise the stormwater and sanitary sewer fees. And some council members have indicated that they have concerns about the proposed increases.

The monthly stormwater fee would go from $4.02 per square foot to $4.64 in the new fiscal year that begins July 1. The sanitary sewer fee would go from a monthly rate of $2.26 to $2.87 based on volume.

There would be more increases in each rate over future fiscal years as well.

The council also takes a final vote on what would be the third freeze in two years on the city’s Deferred Retirement Option Program – or DROP.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland has called for the latest freeze in order to keep police ranks from dropping further below the 2,000 mark. Two recruiting classes are now making their way through the police academy.

The administration’s goal is to have a net gain in police officers this year for the first time in six years.

But the police and fire unions oppose the freeze. They argue it blocks the path to promotions by keeping those in the upper ranks on the job. And that in turn, union leaders believe, leads police and firefighters who can’t move up in the ranks to leave city service.

The administration delayed a final vote on the freeze two weeks ago.

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

At a 9:30 a.m. committee session, council members will review the police department’s use of overtime. The council has cut $2.7 million from police overtime budgeted for the new fiscal year. The cut comes with the provision that the administration and police brass can come to the council if necessary during the year and seek an increase in police overtime funding if necessary.

Council members also talk about the Beale Street Bucks program they voted to abolish at a 10:30 a.m. committee session. The entertainment district was to go from a $10 cover charge to a $5 cover charge on spring and summer Saturday nights after 10 p.m., effective June 10.

But the Downtown Memphis Commission delayed implementation of the reduced cover charge until it was specifically instructed to do so by the city administration. The council and the administration are still at odds over whether the council has the authority under the city charter to regulate the cover charge.

DMC President Terence Patterson has repeatedly told the council that his organization’s contract to manage the entertainment district is with the administration and not the council.

At the 2 p.m. council executive session, council chairman Berlin Boyd plans to introduce an ordinance that would strip the UrbanArt Commission of city funding beyond the $350,000 in funding the council cut earlier for a murals program.

PROPERTY SALES 57 280 1,209
MORTGAGES 55 244 916
BUILDING PERMITS 158 699 2,751