Memphis City Council cuts free food, travel to save money

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(Memphis) As police and firefighters worry about benefits and pensions, we uncovered the city's top dogs are giving back too.

The Memphis City Council is now brown bagging it.

After years of taxpayers complaining about their catered meals, council voted to do away free lunch.

The council heard a lot from city employees, especially fire and police officers, complaining the council is balancing the budget on the backs of hard working employees.

Chairman Jim Strickland wanted to show the council is making a sacrifice.

Tuesdays can be long for Memphis City Council members.

Committee meetings are in the morning and the big chamber meeting is in the evening.

In between, there will now be changes.

"This year it's all brown bag," said Strickland.

There will be no more free lunches and the council is doing away with its travel budget.

"You can't expect employees and retirees to take a hit, when you're eating free food," said Strickland.

The meals cost taxpayers about $300.00 each time they're catered.

Cutting meals and the travel budget saves about $30,000.

Strickland said, "I've said for years, even before this year's budget, that taxpayers should not be paying for the council members' lunches or travel. I think because of this budget crisis, it opened the eyes of some other council members and they agreed to it."

The money saved from the lunches and travel budget goes to help shore up the pension fund.

Some council members contend the savings is only symbolic, and does nothing to help the big picture.

"When you look at those things and people might say what is their sacrifice, if it's a $50 million problem. A $30,000 cut here will not solve the problem," said Ed Ford, Jr., Council Member.

The council also reduced other expenses in the office.

All of those savings amount to just over $55,000.

Strickland admitted that's not a lot but says it shows at least they're making a sacrifice.


  • Moved to tipton county

    Why am I not surprised one of the Ford family members still wants a free meal???

  • Reasonable

    im sorry but sacrificing free lunch doesnt show me anything. these people are sacrificing their lives and thats the most they can give up? oh ok

  • Long Gone

    When you look at those things and people might say what is their sacrifice, if it’s a $50 million problem. A $30,000 cut here will not solve the problem,” said Ed Ford, Jr., Council Member
    You should remember this quote next time there an election/

    • 1midtownmike

      Ed Ford Jr…………….it gives me great pleasure to tell you that you just shot yourself in the foot.

      And I’m in solidarity with LONG GONE…..voters need to be reminded of this the next time you’re on the ballot.

  • Hard Truths

    Ah, King Willie’s neverending Bonfire of Looting is coming to an end!

    What’s next? Take away the toilet-phone? Oh, those poor, poor, deprived City Council Members.

    • Thomas H. Evans

      When are you going to move on from “King Willie” as you put it. These people (City Council) have had more than enough time since King Willie to change things but they chose to be greedy and hold onto things such as free lunch; this was their argument last year. Do they really believe this will make a difference? You really need to up date your comments.

      • Hard Truths

        Willie’s cultural “stylings” and dog whistle rhetoric empowered and encouraged this culture of a kleptocratic nomenklatura.

        Bad habits die hard. Willie’s creatures still run this city. AC has BARELY put a dent in their looting.


    Strickland probably can’t spell sacrifice, much less endure one. Like most of the council of clowns he is a joke. If I was one of his kids I would have to change my name, what an embarrassment.

  • lawman

    News alert!!!! all FORDS RECALL. Faulty mouth piece and faulty capabilities. Please replace all Fords!!!! We will replace no question’s asked.

    • canadianwhiskeygirl

      Lawman, or f$cked up! LOL?………I wonder how $300 meals they had catered each WK? They shoulda been bring their own meals and paying for their own travel the whole time. No sympathy here for city council!

  • luvbreamfishin'

    Should have never had this gimmie gimmie free stuff in the first place. Bunch of overpaid worthless blowhards that are the joke not only in memphis but around the country.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    After lawman, that’s supposed to be or…did it again. Your! Hate predictive text on this tablet.

  • bambam84

    Politicians cutting out of their own personal budgets?
    Be weary. Be very, very weary of this situation.

  • Fed Up with City Lies

    Surely they don’t think city employees are impressed or citizens.

    Let’s see….raise healthcare rates on a city that is self insured, not an insurance company raising the rates. They are raising rates to collect more money to help fund the pension. In essesence the city contributes NOTHING towards a pension or healthcare subsidy…..employees foot the entire bill.

    Wharton is seeking an Obama appointment. I smell something fishy!!! Memphis Wake Up.

  • retiree's wife

    I would gladly bring them a bologna sandwich but unfortunately they’re already full of it. Actually bologna is just a nicer, more polite way of saying what they’re full of. If there’s any humor to be found in this turmoil, this sacrifice is definitely it.

  • canadianwhiskeygirl

    Wreg, I knew u wouldn’t post my reply to retirees wife……I wasn’t polite in it. No, retirees wife, nothing at all negative at u…..THEM!

  • Barney fife

    So they took away their free lunch, how about take away your pensions that we are stuck paying for. The council members think they are above all other city employees and are still receiving their pensions and I would be certain that the ones using city insurance are not getting a 24% rate hike. I also bet they get to keep their insurance when they finally are off council. This article about them taking their lunch away is a joke. You, Jim Strickland, along with several others on the council are a fine examples of self righteous hypocrites. Removing employee benefits equals cementing city failure!

    • poolgirl2

      Please everyone, lay off these poor guys ;). They are simply following the entitlement mentality of our state and federal legislators to make their beds cushy on the backs of those who actually pay taxes to support them. Gee, take your own lunch or have some run out to the cafeteria or Burger King and bring something back like I did for the 42 years I did that (plus 12 years of school when I brown bagged it)? Get real, and pass the bottled water, please.

  • retiree's wife

    To the council… This is the definition of sacrifice, according to Webster: the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone. Would you like to explain how going from a rib dinner to a Mcrib sandwich is any kind of sacrifice on your part? I sincerely hope the voters of Memphis are paying attention to this and won’t be fooled by all these false gestures. But at least you threw it out there. All Wharton has offered is a free clinic, funded by taxpayers, and qualified to treat a hangnail at best. He’s not going to give up his Cadillac or hand out pink slips to all the friends and family he hired.

  • F B

    Are the past Mayors, City Council Members, and administrators going to lose their insurance or are they excluding themselves. Are the insurance premiums going to increase by 24% for the current City Council Members, Mayor, and administrators or is that just for the peons. Is AC currently receiving a pension from Shelby County while working for Memphis Shelby County. Is he going to receive 2 pensions from Shelby County (Memphians pay taxes to both Memphis Shelby County and rural Shelby County) when he loses the next election. Do the Mayor, Council members, and administrators have to work at least 25 years before drawing their pensions and if not why not. Are they going to do something about the excessive (BS) appointed positions. Should the city and the administration be audited (somebody should be held accountable if tax payer funds were misused). Has any past or present employees, including family members, benefited from city lucrative deals.

    • Thomas H. Evans

      Actually, why not put a sales tax on everything so that everyone is paying, especially those people from Mississippi and Arkansas working here and taking these tax dollars back to their communities in these States. Beer and Alcohol will only impact our local people.

  • takenobull

    Memphis is being ran by folks who cannot run their own personal lives ( reference news stories). In the old days Memphis took care of pot holes, trash pick ups, street lights, and all the basic needs of the people before spending 40 million dollars on the end of Beale Street so drunks can view the river. Its my understanding that when the city looked for a private investor for the restaurant at that location they all saw it as a losing proposition so the city is running the restaurant. The City I think spent 19 million dollars for Auto Zone park because It was not making money for the ball team. We all remember the Pyramid which was suppose to be such a big plus for the city but now will be used for selling fishing lures. Mud Island it self where millions were spent, does anyone visit it? Would it not been better to build a simple walk way, plant some trees with family picnic benches? Now we spending millions for a few folks on bikes to cross the river bridge. I am sure I am not thinking of many more “wise” investments. Then there are the hundreds of thousands struggling to pay property tax while major corporations pay no tax. The city says the corporations bring jobs. If they do the city then taxes those with jobs lol. Meanwhile folks we watch on the nightly news as this city decays in crime and poverty. The news reported that the Mayor has 400 appointed positions many making $80,000 a year. You can call that taking care of your pals. Mean while many are saying wow wonder how we got this way lol :)

  • takenobull

    Hey they all should be in jail for taking free food and travel time. Who authorized that? Oh I forgot they did :)

  • fedup

    At what point are we gonna see what benefits the city workers are willing to sacrifice if the city decides to restore the insurance premiums to the original prices? The city workers enjoy a ridiculous amount of sick days, paid holidays, early retirement age, unbelievably cheap deductibles and very cheap premiums as they stand today. They actually expect the city to restore the city’s share of the premium while they give up nothing in return. If they are willing to give up nothing, why are the citizens of Memphis asked to pay more taxes.

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