Wharton pushes for county layoffs, commissioners want more time - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Wharton pushes for county layoffs, commissioners want more time

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

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton is pushing a resolution to lay off 100 county workers in an effort to balance the budget.

The proposal would cut 21 positions from the mayor's administration and 31 from the sheriff's office.

Although the Shelby County is already $1.8 billion in debt, some county commissioners say the layoffs are unnecessary.

"I'm just still not convinced that it's needed yet," said comission chair Deidre Malone.

County Commissioners on both sides of the party line say the county needs to wait.

"We can balance the budget without raising taxes and without substantial layoffs," said commisisoner Mike Carpenter.
   
Carpenter says he will offer a substitute resolution to postpone the layoffs.
       
Both Malone and Carpenter agree that a tax increase is out of the question.

"I know we have some fiscal challenges, but I'd like to see us do whatever we can to possibly not even have a layoff, outside a property tax increase," said Malone.

But it seems no cuts now could mean more cuts later. Carpenter says if the county takes $3 million out of reserves to keep current employees, they can save about $18 million next year, but with a higher number of layoffs.

"So we need to be looking at a layoff much larger than 100...200 to 300 in my view," he said.

The administration is expected to make a new pitch this week.

Both commissioners say a delay would give county employees more time to plan.

"It's my belief that the administration will come back with another proposal, and it may be that it's not 100," said Malone. "It may be less - 50 layoffs with some other things we can do differently."

But Carpenter says there's another reason to delay. "There may be as many as 700 (county employees) next year who are eligible for retirement."

This discussion is far from over. But commissioners only have until June 30 to figure out what to do before the next fiscal year begins July 1.
 
"I know at the end of the day, we'll do the right thing," said Malone.

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