(Memphis) – The homeless community and those who help them, made their case.
The homeless need to be considered in this year’s budget.
“You spend money at the jail and The MED, when you don’t take people fo the streets,” Paul Morris with the Downtown Memphis Commission said.
After a long discussion, commissioners overwhelmingly voted to give homeless programs in Shelby County $450,000.
“We need the drug counseling the medical care, those things to make sure the cycle is broken and they are not back on the streets,” homeless advocate Paul Garner said.
The money is part of an almost $1 million increase in spending over the budget County Mayor Mark Luttrell submitted to commissioners.
“The bottom line is it did increase the cost of government,” Luttrell said.
The way to fund the increase is to dip into the county’s savings account called the Fund Balance.
It’s a move that concerns Luttrell “We have been working diligently for along time trying to get our financial house stable and this is a little bit of a kink in the process.”
Commissioner Steve Mulroy disagrees.
“To say we don’t have money in my opinion is disingenuous its a question of priorities. Do you think its important to help out the homeless,” Mulroy said.
Also getting help, former basketball star Penny Hardaway’s new sports facility for kids.
Commissioners however, put a restriction on the money.
They want the facility built in the inner city, not in Cordova where Hardaway wants it built.
The program hopes commissioners reconsider.
“It’s a matter of creating an event center that will be an economic engine will drive dollars into the city so we can take care of the programming and facilities that exist in the inner city already,” Leigh Fox with Hardaway’s FastBreak Courts said.
The billion dollar budget now heads to the Mayor’s desk for final approval.
The mayor’s biggest concern with the budget increase is the unknown.
He says property reappraisals and the future school consolidation could put a big burden on the county’s purse springs.