Wharton administration says city employees need to “chill out” about budget cut concerns

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — City employees are turning their backs turned on city hall and an administration they say has turned their backs on them.

They came with homemade signs, t-shirts, and a message for Mayor A C Wharton.

Heater File helped organize the protest.

She said, “Nothing is going to keep us from fighting this until the vote is reversed.”

This group got its start online after the City Council voted to cut city employee benefits.

File said it was time for action.

“We can keep posting and posting or not standing for anything else.”

Tuesday, they took their frustrations to the streets. Circling city hall, they came together and prayed.

Kenneth Whalon, Jr., lead the prayer, saying, “Lord, I come now asking for a miracle. Because they say this decision is final.”

Inside city hall, Mayor Wharton’s chief administrative officer said this decision wasn’t popular, but it was the only one presented. And it’s final.

“If everybody can just chill out we can take a deep breath and exhale and if we work together we can work through this.”

He said it was this or raise property taxes, an option that was even less popular and productive.

“Let’s say for a second we did that what are we going to do next year and the year after this isn’t like you put the money down in the problem goes away.”

But protestors say the new budget has created new problems for their families and the city seems to be ignoring that.

File said, “They strap on vests, they strap on fire gear, they lay their lives down for this city.”

This problem doesn’t appear to be going away either. The mayor’s administration say undoing this budget goes against state law, and they’ve still got the pension to deal with.

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