Memphis City Council Votes On Budget

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(Memphis) The city council is voting on several amendments to the proposed budget this evening. It’s trying to comply with demands from the state to fix the city’s financial problems.

It was standing room only. Even the overflow room was packed during the meeting.

Most of the attendees work for the city, and they aren’t happy.

FAIL – Increase city employees’ pay by 4.6 percent (votes were tied, with six for the increase and six against)

PASS – Return $226,000 to Music Commission (committee had previously voted to cut it)

PASS – Add 15 red light cameras around Memphis

Councilman Myron Lowery suggested installing speeding cameras to raise revenue.

PASS – Add 150 speed cameras in school zones and neighborhoods (ten votes for, two votes against)

An estimate says the city could get $29 million from speed cameras. But Herman Morris, the city attorney, says don’t count on that money because it’s “revenue neutral.”

Morris says you can’t budget expecting someone is going to break the law.

PASS – Cut $250,000 from EDGE‘s $2.1 million budget

Councilman Jim Strickland says that in the last three decades, 100,000 people have moved out of Memphis. He says high property taxes are a big reason why.

Strickland then presented his own budget: lay off one hundred, then let 300 leave through attrition instead of giving buyouts.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said, “The last thing we need to do in this city is attempt to put people out of work when we are already claiming we don’t have the property tax base.”

PASS – Lay off 100, with 300 to go through attrition

Thomas Malone, the firefighter association president, tried to speak at this point, but he was turned away at the podium.

“When we tried to speak, they said, ‘We are going to let you talk after its over,'” he said. “Well hell, that’s not going to do a whole lot of good.”

PASS – Keep $8,000 travel and catering budget

Check back for more updates.

Once the council has gone through all of the amendments, the council members will cast their final votes on the budget.