Memphis councilman fires back as de-annexation moves ahead

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A plan to de-annex multiple parts of the city hit a speed bump Tuesday after getting backlash from some city council members.

The administration’s been working on a plan to de-annex areas for years now to provide services more efficiently and effectively.

However, some weren’t happy with the plan on Tuesday when the Southwind-Windyke and Riverbottoms areas were brought before a council committee.

“When we’re looking at a net loss that we would experience, I will not support it as long as I’m a council person,” Councilman Martavius Jones said.

Southwind-Windyke and the Riverbottoms area generate nearly $4 million in revenue for the city.

“You do not sell your best performing assets," Jones said. "That’s what we’re being asked to do here. The people who are most able to pay. Let’s de-annex Boxtown. People who don’t have the ability to pay.”

Other council members said they want more information on what Southwind-Windyke and the Riverbottoms area have contributed to the city since being annexed.

“At that time it was a positive and now it’s a negative,” Councilwoman Patrice Robinson said.

Memphis Chief Operating Officer Doug McGowen said the money lost with de-annexation would be short term.

“Growing your city is not an easy decision in making those investments and rightsizing your city is similarly not an easy decision,” he said.

And he says it would save the city money in maintenance and sewage while moving crucial services to other neighborhoods in need.

“This is a way we can double down on the rest of the City of Memphis to provide the services that frankly have been diluted over the last 40 years," he said.

As for the suggestion of de-annexing areas like Orange Mound or Boxtown in South Memphis instead, McGowen said the goal is to grow the city up, not out.

“Fundamentals of growing your city is you should not have an isthmus or peninsula, you should not have doughnut holes and you should not have islands," he said.

The de-annexation of these two areas will be presented before the full council next month.

It went forward to the full council with a negative recommendation from a council committee Tuesday.

This is part of a three-phase de-annexation phase from the city. Eads and South Cordova are also included in the plan.