Firefighters present study saying Memphis overspends on big business

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- We're the global transportation hub with FedEx routing packages through our airport each day. The corporation, like International Paper and Electrolux, made deals with the city. They pay fewer taxes and promise to keep their huge operations here in Shelby County. They call it PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes.

“We call that corporate welfare and they're trying to put our people, the retirees and trying to put them on real welfare,” said Thomas Malone, President, Memphis Firefighter’s Union.

Malone hates the practice. He says the city gave multi-million dollar companies tax breaks instead of paying into pension programs for the firefighters who risked their lives protecting Memphis citizens.

“We got people 80 years old who had their insurance snatched out underneath them,” said Malone.

Mayor Wharton's chief of staff, Bobby White, listened and later the Chief Economic Development Officer, Reid Dulberger, said Malone and this report had it wrong.

“This issue is an issue around the world. Companies go where they get a return on investment. We may not like it but that's the real world,” said Dulberger.

He said the city never does a deal where they lose money and other cities give better deals all the time. It's how Memphis lost Pinnacle Airlines last year, to Minneapolis.

He says the program helped, it didn't hurt.


  • Unknown

    Listen to these politicans your present all the facts you want and no matter what they twist and turn the words and always find a way to say thier right. I’m sick of it time to vote every single one of them out.

    • The Real Nonya

      Hey Wayne Carter! Did you actually talk to any of these people or are you just parroting what you read? Why didn’t you say something this??????????
      Oh yea Mr. Malone. Scrap the PILOT program and guess how much tax revenue you will get from it ….. The correct answer is NONE! Why on earth would first class companies like International Paper, AutoZone and FedEx ( just to name a few) want to remain in a third world city like Memphis if they aren’t getting something for it? Without the PILOT program they would all leave Memphis and would probably leave the country. Then where would the tax money to pay firefighters come from?

      With them gone all the jobs they provide would be gone also. All the job supporting the people with jobs at the first class corporations would be gone, and all the jobs supporting those people would be gone.

      So what I am asking you Mr. Malone is …. why do you want to send Memphis down the same road as Detroit. Or have you just not thought this through?

      It’s time WREG started doing some investigating and real live reporting and quit reprinting what comes out of the fax or teletype!

  • JDenver

    Keep in mind these large corporations keep thousands of Shelby Co residents employed. In addition to that, they pay a huge chunk of their employee’s health care premiums. One doesn’t need to look too far into the books to see where our tax dollars are going. Obviously its not going to our hard working public service employees such as the fire fighters but where exactly is it going?

  • Kevin

    The Fire Department need to shut the hell up and fight fires like they were hired to do … If you don’t like what’s going on, step down and give that job to someone that can do the job … and let the politicians do theirs. Tired of all this belly-aching being done be these people that think they are owed something. Do your job and please shut your mouths.

    • blakspartan

      Ok since your complaining about the fire department, if your house or car catches on fire. You put it out yourself

  • Look In The Mirror

    No the problm is not Fedex deals. The problem is when those little council trolls say they’re going to dump 23MILLION DOLLARS INTO THE RALEIGH SPRINGS MALL, BUT THERE IS NO MONEY FOR POLICE AND FIRE SERVICES. They want to do shady contract deals because it puts money into the pockets of their friends and cousins when they give them the contract jobs. THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL ONLY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES AND NOT THIS CITY

    • Gonebabygone

      The few that will be made out as villains that are trying to keep the city from bankruptcy will bear the brunt of the backlash. That is what is sad. Decades of voting for politicians that made bad financial decisions to win the vote of union members and non-taxpayers got us here. They spent tax dollars like their own personal income, without regard to account balances. Look at how many are delinquent on taxes and how many have filed bankruptcy. Why should we expect them to understand how to budget? And yet, they still win votes with promises of money spent that we don’t have.

      Maybe it is time for across the board personnel cuts in place of benefit changes.

  • ACW

    Have they found the 6th floor parking garage yet at FedEx Forum ? Has anyone talked to Delphi employees when they were “sold out” when Obama bailed out GM? Life tough .. save $, save $, save $ …. Maybe this city may have a chance after all ..Don’t like your job .. quit, move to the promise land (city) .. until that land is taken away … 401k for all… Hopefully today’s vote will make this happen…

  • Anonymous

    Some of you need to look at what members of the Council actually do for a living and see whose pockets are getting fatter by backing STUPID investments like the Raleigh Springs Mall…..Kemp Conrad?? Look at others and see what they do. Are there conflicts of interest?
    Reply to Kevin…..what you fail to comprehend is that we have worked and retired from the City of Memphis and we worked on a promise by the city regarding pensions and healthcare, and we were NEVER told that those terms and promises could be changed. It was part of our retirement. City of Memphis needs to cut the fat in its government positions and expenditures.
    This city has become so dysfunctional over the years. Cronies are placed in unnecessary/conjured up positions that were never in existence previously……Remember Yolanda McFagdon, Essex, and Boone? I’m sure there are others in like positions today. Cronies are put in positions that are over their heads in competency. Can you say “Peter Principle”?
    What makes some of you think that the City of Memphis is not going down the same road as Detroit. WE ARE ALREADY THERE?
    I pray that one day SOON that the State of TN will come in and audit this city and this council. We will then see where all the $$ is going, whose pockets are getting fat, and who will be going to jail.

    • The Real Nonya

      The city never promised you ANYTHING! There was a pension plan in place and now that plan has changed. The city is free to change the terms of employment at ANY time.

      But it you think you have a promise …… SHOW ME THE PAPER IT WAS WRITTEN ON!

      Otherwise, stop beating you gums, it’s getting old.

      • Anonymous

        Obviously, you’re part of the problem. Who are you…….Conrad or Flinn?
        Most retirees are too old to find employment….and you think it is fair to change those guidelines once an employee retires? We worked years for the City of Memphis risking our lives every day towards a retirement pension and healthcare. I believe it was a city charter. I guess the courts will decide if the city has a right to change it in such a drastic manner and put more retirees in poverty, because some will now have no pensions going forward if this change goes into effect.
        What do you think is going to happen to current employees who now have no future once they reach retirement age? Do you think they will stick around and find out they have no pension that they have been working towards for years? You are going to see a mass exodus of current employees, and it won’t matter if Memphis goes out of city/state to recruit. There will be no incentive for anyone to work here with a career in mind.
        People like you have ruined this city!

  • Barbara Bennett

    Got my NEW Dell PC today … Parts from Japan .. Assembled in Mexico … More flooding over the border daily, freely by this administration to take your jobs at lower pay … If I make $2 a day in Guatemala but can make $7 hr here … that ‘s a life change …

    • Anonymous

      And what does that have to do with this topic? You obviously don’t know how to use your new Dell PC. :)

  • hank wesson

    if memphis politicians would focus more on city needs instead of their own we would be a better city too late now stop spending on ponzy schemes stop letting big buissness run game

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