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VOL. 132 | NO. 58 | Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Impasse Compromise Wins Council Approval, Union Acceptance

By Bill Dries

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No more lottery balls for the Memphis City Council in the spring. The council approved Tuesday, March 21, an overhaul of the city’s impasse procedures – the rules for the council settling stalled contract talks between the city’s municipal unions and the city administration.

Among the changes is no more drawings of numbers on lottery balls to determine which council members will serve on the three-member committees that recommend either the city’s final offer or the union’s final offer to the full council.

The unions pick one council member. The administration picks another and those two council members then pick a third to complete the panel.

Union leaders and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland agreed Tuesday on a compromise before the council approval of the ordinance on third and final reading.

The compromise was being negotiated up to an hour before the council session.

Council member Kemp Conrad sought to streamline the process for deadlocked contract talks and align it more closely and ahead of the council’s final approval of the city budget.

In the Tuesday compromise his idea of a single impasse committee became no more than seven impasse committees. And there are provisions in the ordinance for a form of arbitration between the administration and union on non-economic items.

The impasse ordinance only applies to deadlocks on economic issues.

In other action Tuesday, a proposal for a parking lot at the Turner Dairy plant in Overton Square was withdrawn by developers.

The dairy is expanding but needed council approval for a parking lot that was to be a part of the expansion. The parking lot drew opposition from neighbors and the entertainment district. It was also rejected by the Land Use Control Board.

The council approved on third and final reading an ordinance that chances how the city handles false burglar alarms. The ordinance by council member Philip Spinosa raises the false alarm fine from $25 to $50 per incident after an initial warning.

And the council set the stage for an April 11 vote on third and final reading of the ordinance by council chairman Berlin Boyd to up fees for on-street parking Downtown on game nights at FedExForum by passing the measure Tuesday on the second of three readings.

The April council session also became a deadline of sorts to work out new differences between the Memphis Zoo and the Overton Park Conservancy that surfaced Tuesday over the split of costs each is to pay for a reconfiguration and expansion of zoo parking.

The zoo balked at putting up its half of $500,000 for the planning and design work on the parking with Zoo president Chuck Brady saying the conservancy should also put up half of the second phase – the actual construction.

The conservancy has the $250,000 share for the planning and design work. But Conservancy director Tina Sullivan said the other funding isn’t due now. The conservancy also contends the split on the construction is still open to negotiation.

The council is to vote on accepting the money from the zoo and OPC for the planning and design at its April 11 meeting. The meeting will also be a deadline of sorts for talks to get the two groups together on terms beyond planning and design.

Before Tuesday’s council session, the council and other political leaders unveiled a portrait of former mayor A C Wharton Jr. in the Hall of Mayors. The ceremony drew the presence of Strickland and former Memphis Mayor Dick Hackett as well as former Shelby County Mayor Bill Morris and current county mayor Mark Luttrell.

PROPERTY SALES 56 437 16,061
MORTGAGES 76 508 18,556
BUILDING PERMITS 241 876 33,390
BANKRUPTCIES 64 301 10,314