(Memphis) Mayor A C Wharton is highlighting some of the major issues the city is facing in his annual state of the city address.
He’s not sugar-coating the situation saying Memphis is in a tough spot, but he’s optimistic about moving forward.
Mayor Wharton’s speech focused on five Ps, including potholes, pensions, public safety, poverty, and putting all this together in a plan.
“I’m pleased to report that our government is recovering and getting stronger every day,” said Wharton.
In a stoic state of the city address, Wharton said the city has gone through the perfect storm, but it is fighting back out of a huge financial hole.
Wharton says one of the biggest issues the city faces is the nearly half-billion dollar hole Wharton claims the city is in when it comes to pensions, and he used the speech as a change to push a move to a 401K type system.
“What this means is that we must go to a model in which the city of Memphis and its tax payers are not the ultimate guarantors of what the pension should be regardless of the market,” said Wharton.
That plan is catching a lot of flak from some, but Wharton claims he has to do something because when the economy tanked the city’s funds took a major hit, and the state even stepped in to tell Memphis leaders to get the house in order.
When it comes to public safety the mayor claims crime is down from last year and youth gun violence is down 13 percent.
But he says there is still work to be done, especially with huge budget cuts to fire and police possible.
“By looking at certain equipment and cameras and GPS systems we feel that we can cut costs tremendously,” said Wharton.
Wharton also used the speech to layout lofty goals to fight the 27 percent poverty rate.
He says the city is working on a plan to make jobs more available to people through more bus routes and other programs.
His goal is to drop that poverty rate by one percent every year for the next decade bringing it down to 17%.
In the fourth P the mayor said the city will aggressively work to fix potholes, repave 45 percent more roads, and improve the overall quality of life.
Wharton wrapped all this up saying the plan to do this is important, and he got the city council to put off its retreat next weekend so members could meet with him and discuss ways they can improve communication and accomplish these goals.