Wharton Proposing Even Higher Property Tax Rate And Layoffs

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(Memphis) Layoffs, buyouts and a tax hike were at the center of budget discussions Tuesday morning among Memphis city council members.

“This councilman is not going to make a decision on Hail Mary’s and 11th hour bombs,” said Harold Collins.

Memphis City Council member were hopeful about making a decision on the budget today, but it is unlikely that will happen before the next meeting in two weeks.

In a proposal from Mayor A C Wharton’s staff Tuesday, he calls for $3.51 property tax rate and the elimination of 400 jobs.

Three hundred workers will be offered buyouts costing the city $14 million.

Another 100 people will be laid off.

According to city administration the move will save the city $11 next year.

“We’ve already cut parks, we’ve already cut libraries, we already have pot holes on a 30+ year paving cycle,” said Chief Administrative Officer George Little.

Many council members couldn’t understand how jobs could be cut and the tax rate increased at the same time.

“The questions and issues that were raised about the debt, the comptroller’s letter as it relate to debt service and putting money back into reserves,” explained Little.

However the meeting got heated as cuts to city worker benefits were discussed.

“I haven’t read one thing in the comptroller’s report about sick leave, bonus days or none of that stuff,” shouted Memphis Fire Fighters Association President Thomas Malone.

Many of the benefits on the chopping block were negotiated between city administration and the unions.

The unions said that would make those benefits, like longevity pay off-limits.

“If they take it outside of negotiations the only resource we have is litigation,” said Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams.

Council will likely not make any discussions today. But one or all of the above cuts and hikes will be seriously considered.

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