Shelby Commission committee votes to explore consolidation - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Shelby Commission committee votes to explore consolidation

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) -   The first step towards consolidation of Memphis and Shelby County is now in motion.  Wednesday, a Shelby County Commission committee voted in favor of forming a Metro Government Charter Commission.

The new committee will create a charter to show people what one government would look like.
 
At the meeting, Memphis mayoral candidate and current Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton acted as the face of consolidation.

"This is the very beginning of the process," Wharton said.

Most commissioners were concerned about who would be on the commission.

"I have previously requested members of this body submit to me three names each for consideration," Wharton said.

While Mayor Wharton would appoint ten members, Memphis City Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery would appoint five.

Commissioner Sydney Chism expressed trepidation.

"Because the last guy that headed up that Charter Commission across the street is benefiting from it, and I don't like that one bit," Chism said.

Commissioner Wyatt Bunker said he was worried about county representation.

"They feel like they're just left out to dry," he said.

Members of the community also spoke out.

"A lot of people I've spoken with say that well, I don't even know what a metro government would look like. Maybe it's better than being annexed," said Brian Stephens of the Cordova Leadership Council.

"This is just getting the process going and I urge everyone to support the process," Commissioner Shea Flinn said.

"What still concerns me today is that there has been no discussion about voices from the community," said Brad Watkins of the Mid-South Peach and Justice Center.

Two other concerns came up in the meeting:  City residents are worried because the incorporated cities of Bartlett, Collierville, and Germantown keep their charters, allowing them to vote on metro government issues, while metro residents have no vote on their issues.

Also, though the metro charter would not merge schools, county residents are concerned about maintaining their sheriff's and fire services.

Commissioners Bunker and Joyce Avery were the only two to vote against the formation of the committee.  Ultimately, voters will decide if the city and county become one.

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