Council members ask for answers to consolidation questions - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Council members ask for answers to consolidation questions

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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - One day after the Shelby County Commission voted to move forward with consolidation efforts between the city of Memphis and Shelby County, the Memphis City Council brought those efforts to a halt Tuesday.

After a consolidation listening tour with Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton and County Commissioner Deidre Malone, Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery went before the Memphis City Council on Tuesday to pitch the idea of forming a Metro Government Charter Commission.

"I'm saying is the citizens deserve the opportunity to vote on it after they see what the Charter Commission has drafted," Lowery said.

Councilwoman Wanda Halbert said she wanted more democracy in the process.  Halbert said she was concerned why Lowery and Wharton decided they would have final say on who would be appointed to the Charter Commission.

"Where have these discussions taken place, and why weren't members of the city council invited to take part?" she asked.

Many Council members support consolidation, but don't think voters will pass it without more inclusion.

"There are several things that appear to have already been discussed and almost decided," Council member Jim Strickland said.

Council member Bill Morrison was even more direct.

"You need to receive this message from this body very clearly: You have two weeks to fix what some of us have felt like they've left us out," he said.

Council member Harold Collins had questions about other area cities.

"I would like to know why the group decided all the municipalities surrounding Memphis would maintain their autonomy and Memphis wouldn't," he said.

"This was completely transparent because it was done in the light of day," Lowery said. "We had a series of 15 community meetings.  Members of the City Council and the County Commission appeared in those meetings."

Council members will gather more information about the Metro Government Charter Commission, and if they're satisfied with what they hear, they may vote on it in two weeks.

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