City Council tackles budget proposals

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- It was a busy day at City Hall Tuesday as council members tediously sifted through various proposals during budget talks in committees.

City Council members drew a bit closer to making budget approvals and gave the green light to the fire department's budget.

In fact, many council members praised the public safety employees.

"I think it's just an indication of what the fire staff and management are doing every day, consistently. We're highly rated in the city," said Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat.

Director Sweat told the council call volume throughout the city has increased, and her department is looking at new ways to help with the load.

"There's a lot of data opportunities out there that we can do better. So we're looking into bringing in some data analytics pieces where we can actually study our response times, study the different parts of town to make sure that we're as effective as we can be."

Sweat said EMS response is the driving factor and the department plans to look at new programs to help people who need medical help that might not be life threatening.

"Instead of just giving them a ride to the emergency room which may not be what they need."

When Mayor Jim Strickland initially rolled out his budget proposal a few weeks ago, police officers were basically the only city employees seeing a raise.

In committees, council members have discussed reducing police overtime to give all city employee's a one percent boost in pay.

The council committee also signed off on their own budget, upping the money they receive for catering at meetings as well as travel.

Council members travel budget is designed to allow members to go to other cities and bring back new ideas to Memphis.

The final city budget needs to be approved by the end of June.