Some budget cuts "ridiculous," council member says - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Some budget cuts "ridiculous," council member says

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Police, pools, golf courses and community centers are all on the chopping block in a new list of cuts proposed by Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton.

For weeks, the city of Memphis and the Memphis City Council have been in a tug-of-war over next year's budget.  Council members recently asked Mayor Herenton to cut $50 million dollars from his budget.

Now, some council members say some of those cuts are dead on arrival.  In the revised budget, delivered Tuesday, $18 million is slashed from the Memphis Police Department, $7 million from the Memphis Fire Department and no grants are given to non-profit organizations.

Meanwhile, golf courses are converted to parks, and some pools and community centers are closed.

"I think it was a show to sort of push the ball back at the Council," council member Jim Strickland said of Herenton's budget.

Strickland said he doesn't understand why Herenton would make those cuts, but keep a three percent raise for city employees.

"The function of the government is to provide services, not employment," he said.

Councilman Shea Flinn said not all the cuts are out of place.

"Some of them, I think, are ridiculous, but not all of them are," Flinn said. "It's important for the public to understand there will be some service impacts."

But Flinn believes some cuts for police were out of place.

"We know we need to hire cops," he said. "We don't need to take out the incentive package to hire cops.  That was one of the things they had cut."

And Strickland says police should not lose seven dispatchers.

"That would increase the amount of time it takes for a 911 call up to 5 minutes," he said. "But at the same time, he's allowing a three percent raise to city employees."

Council members say they will find a way.

"This has to be a conversation about what are those core services that we depend on government to provide and how much are we willing to pay to provide them," Flinn said.

Budget talks resume Tuesday.

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