Council Members Angry Over Fire Station Closure
(Memphis) For the first time in three decades, the city of Memphis is closing a fire station, and critics say it will put people in North Memphis in danger.
Some of those same critics say Mayor AC Wharton’s administration isn’t being honest in an attempt to save money.
When city council approved a budget last month it included a 2.5-percent cut to public safety, but council members say they had no idea that would mean closing a fire station that’s been in North Memphis for 60 years.
The move saves the city more than $2 million a year.
“I have pretty low expectations for city government and they seem to be lowered a little more after this kind of decision without any input,” said Councilman Lee Harris.
Harris is fired up over the Wharton administration because he believes they knew about the possibility of closing this fire station on North Thomas, but they never told the council about it during the budget process.
“It’s certainly intentional misrepresentation to hide facts if you have them,” said Harris.
Harris found out about the closure from watching the news and says there should be more discussion about this kind of thing.
“It makes you wonder if anyone in leadership has a plan when you talk for a year about whether to get rid of an inspection station that nobody wants and you spend a week or two talking about getting rid of a fire station everybody wants. So it’s pretty bizarre,” said Harris.
Councilman Harold Collins says he isn’t going to rush judgment and wants to hear from the mayor before making a decision, but he would have liked more warning.
“If they knew this was going to happen months ago, don’t just wait until 30 days before the closing of the station to discuss this and bring is up,” said Collins.
Mayor Wharton’s office says it is supporting the fire department’s recommendation to close the station next month after a fire department study and found closing Station Number 6 would save money and not impact public safety in the neighborhood.
Wharton’s administration says they didn’t get the results of that study until after the budget had already been approved.