VOL. 132 | NO. 57 | Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Council Agenda Includes Final Impasse Vote And Beale Street Management Discussion
By Bill Dries
Memphis City Council members take up third and final reading Tuesday, March 21, of changes to the city’s impasse process and talk more specifically about a move to do away with the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority.
Memphis City Council members have a full agenda Tuesday, March 21, that includes a final vote on changes to the city impasse ordinance, a discussion of how Beale Street is managed and a vote on Turner Dairy’s expansion at Overton Square.
(Daily News File/Bill Dries)
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.
The impasse ordinance proposal by council member Kemp Conrad has drawn opposition from all of the unions representing city workers. And some called last week for a delay in Tuesday’s final vote to discuss possible compromises.
Conrad is proposing a single, three-member council impasse committee to make recommendations to the full council on any and all impasses on contract talks between the city and unions representing those workers.
Currently there is a separate impasse committee of three council members chosen in a lottery-style drawing for each impasse.
Conrad’s ordinance would also change how council members are selected – one council member would chosen by the unions, another by the city administration and a third selected by the first two council members chosen.
At the outset of a declared impasse, the union would have to submit a specific proposal for how much their final offer in the impasse would add to the city budget for the next fiscal year if accepted by the council.
That is the change that has drawn the most criticism from union leaders who argue it is not their responsibility to draft a budget amendment.
Conrad’s intent is a more streamlined process that is linked to the council’s approval of a city budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
Council members will discuss the proposal at the 2 p.m. executive session, which could determine if there is a delay in the final vote.
At an 8:45 a.m. committee session, council members return to discussing the management of the Beale Street entertainment district.
Council member Martavius Jones is proposing to abolish the Beale Street Tourism Development Authority the council approved in 2015, just before the current council with six new members took office in 2016.
Those new council members have had a lot of questions about the move to an authority following a three-way settlement of a long-running dispute in two courts over management of the district.
And those council members have been critical of the authority’s decision in October to end contract talks with 21 Beale Street to manage the district for the authority on a day-to-day basis.
The authority holds the master lease with the city for the district, which spans four blocks between Second and Fourth streets. The lease transfer from the Beale Street Development Corp. was part of the settlement of the lawsuits.
But Lucille Catron, the executive director of BSDC, has told the council the city still has a master lease agreement with her organization. She reiterated that claim in a federal lawsuit she filed against the city and the district last year over the district’s summer late night cover charge of $10.
The authority cited the lawsuit in deciding it would suspend the search for a day-to-day management firm. Meanwhile, the Downtown Memphis Commission board has approved a call by its president, Terence Patterson, to seek a longer-term arrangement with the city to manage the street.
In lawsuit interrogatories, both the city administration and the DMC, which has been running the district day to day on an interim basis for three years and counting, say BSDC no longer has the master lease.
U.S. District Judge John Fowlkes is considering a temporary restraining order on the use of cover charge revenue after hearing two days of testimony last week. He quashed a subpoena by Catron and her attorneys for Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland to testify.
Fowlkes rejected a similar request for a temporary restraining order in December.
Also on Tuesday, the council also reviews the terms of a proposed $200 million loan from the Economic Development Growth Engine to the city to prepay a loan from the Center City Revenue Finance Corp. to the city that financed improvements to the Pyramid in its conversion to a Bass Pro Shops.
The loan shift would free up Tourism Development Zone sales tax revenue as the city prepares for an approximately $60 million renovation of the Memphis Cook Convention Center and redevelopment of the Pinch District – a nine-block area north of the convention center between the Pyramid and the campus of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The council votes Tuesday on the parking lot part of Turner Dairy’s expansion in Overton Square. The council delayed a vote on the controversial matter late last year and the Land Use Control Board recommends rejection of the parking lot.
Opponents of the plan say the dairy is out of step with land uses in the resurgent Overton Square entertainment district.
The dairy, which was there before the square, has moved ahead with parts of the expansion that do not require approval.
The council also votes Tuesday on $500,000 in funding from the Overton Park Conservancy and the Memphis Zoo for design and engineering of an expanded and reconfigured zoo parking area.
The zoo and OPC are each contributing $250,000 in private funding for the planning and design work on 415 extra parking spaces. The plans are to be completed in the fall.
Just before the 3:30 p.m. meeting, council members and others will gather in the Hall of Mayors at City Hall for the unveiling of a portrait of former Mayor A C Wharton Jr. that will hang in the hall along with the portraits of other past mayors.