Tension After Mayor Presents Budget Then Leaves

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(Memphis) Memphis can no longer provide the same services without raising the tax rate.

That's according to Mayor A C Wharton who presented his budget proposal to city council Wednesday.

For the first time in several decades, property values in Memphis have dropped, and that decrease is costing the city $34 million.

By state law, Memphis has to raise your tax rate so you pay the same amount in property taxes.

Council can change the rate back, but Mayor Wharton hopes they don't do that.

The mayor told council members they have already cut tax rates down to levels not seen since 1991.

Wharton says he is shrinking the budget by eliminating duplicate services and positions.

The city has shed nearly 400 workers in the past few years, and Wharton is also changing the way future retirees get health benefits.

Under this plan they will be moved to Medicare rather than the city's policy.

This is the second year in a row the city's budget has shrunk.

The mayors proposal is for a $623 million budget which is $20 million less than last year.

There are many demands on this budget.

The police department has increased the amount they are asking from the city by $43 million dollars in the last five years.

Sixty cents of every dollar this city spends is on public safety.

The mayor quickly left the chamber after his proposal.

Councilman Kemp Conrad tweeted:

You will have a chance to ask your question next Tuesday when there will be a public hearing here on the budget.

Ultimately city council will approve the budget.