Memphis City Council Deciding What To Do With $1.3 Mil Refund

(Memphis) Here’s something you don’t hear too often: the Memphis City Council is trying to figure out what to do with an extra $1.3 million after the chamber turned the money down.

Lots of ideas, but no definitive answer after the city learned it’s getting a refund from the chamber at Tuesday’s budget hearings.

From Nashville, Mayor A C Wharton suggested putting some towards economic development, and a million towards youth services.

In a statement, Wharton said, “I contend that the highest and best use of the $1.35 million is to invest in our youth and in economic development. I hope the Council will give serious consideration to our proposal to provide additional funds for EDGE and Youth Services to be used to expand the highly effective Youth Ambassadors program.”

Councilman Wanda Halbert said it will combat youth violence. Just last week, two kids were shot, and one died.

“My opinion is the city needs to make an investment to keep them busy and keep them occupied,” she said.

Not everyone agrees the time is now. Councilman Jim Strickland proposed putting the extra money towards the city’s estimated $700 million unfunded pension problem, but was shut down.

The city is also scrambling to find $6.5 million to test more than 12,000 rape kits that sat on MPD’s shelves for decades.

“We sought state funding, and we are going after other grants at the federal level. We are hopeful to get other funding in the budget process besides necessarily that million dollars,” said Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

Little said numbers are being worked out, and both rape kits and our youth are top priorities.

He said the city can always pull additional funding from MPD’s reserve fund for rape kits if worse comes to worse.

“You shouldn’t spend a million dollars on a moment’s notice,” said Councilman Lee Harris. He said the council will discuss all options. “I can think of a thousand ideas. Rape kits is a good idea. Rapes, burglaries, I can think of a thousand ideas that are good ideas.”

All details have to be worked out by June 30, the budget deadline.

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