Why Shelby County’s Budget Is Better Off Than Memphis’

(Shelby County, TN) A tale of two budgets: Shelby County Commissioners are working on next year’s budget, but unlike Memphis City Council members, they’re not scrambling for millions of dollars.

The city is trying to find millions of dollars for an underfunded pension plan, while the county is looking at giving employees an across the board pay raise.

The Shelby County Budget Committee doesn’t have to crunch too many numbers for next year, since most departments aren’t asking for more money.

The county mayor is even proposing a 2.5 percent pay raise to employees.

“The elected officials that bring their budgets know we are in tough times. They’ve been helping cut in areas,” said Commissioner Terry Roland.

A few doors down, the city council spent Tuesday night going back and forth trying to find an estimated $700 million dollars for pensions, which means many departments will take a hit.

“I think they are top heavy. There’s nepotism over there. There’s too much buddy-buddy over there,” said Roland.

Roland said unlike the county, the city keeps spending money it doesn’t have.

“I think my partners across the street need to learn the word no,” said Roland.

“I do wish the mayor and the majority of the council would say no sometimes,” said Councilman Jim Strickland.

But that’s not the reason why Strickland thinks the city is in trouble.

“There’s really two issues the city is struggling with. The city has borrowed way too much money, and the city didn’t properly fund its pension like the county did,” said Strickland.

Not everybody thinks the city and county’s budgets are drastically different.

Councilman Harold Collins said, “I don’t think the city’s budget is more problematic. The county just has a greater resource than the city.”

Both the city and the county’s budget need to be worked out by June 30th.