Wharton outlines tough budget decisions in letter

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - On December 30th, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton sent a letter to just three members of the Memphis City Council who oversee the money: Council Chairman Harold Collins, incoming Capital Improvement Plan Committee Chairman Shea Flinn and incoming Operating and Maintenance Budget Committee Chairman Bill Morrison.

In the letter, Wharton says the city has some hard decisions to make to manage its budget shortfall.  He plans to unveil his aggressive plan February 1st.

Short-term goals:

1. Hiring and travel freezes
2. Filling only essential job vacancies
3. Functional consolidation of city and county fire services
4. Reducing overtime
5. Consolidating divisions
6. Consolidating and duplicate functions

Goals in the near future:
1. Strengthening tax and fee collection procedures
2. Balancing fees and taxes so property owners are not unfairly burdened
3. Reducing and eliminating grants to non-profits
4. A review of employee/pension benefits
5. Sales of city-owned assets and sale/leaseback opportunities (land and parking garages)

Long-term plan:
Five Core Areas
1. Planning
2. Policy
3. Structure
4. Service Delivery
5. Government Efficiency

Three Economic Engines
1. The Pyramid
2. Graceland
3. The Fairgrounds

Competitive Edges
1. Creativity (music and culture)
2. Logistics (FedEx)
3. Natural Resources (Mississippi River)
4. Tourism (Graceland/Civil Rights Museum)
5. And Medicine (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)

Wharton's letter says the city needs a new approach to economic development by focusing on talent development and human capital, and he wants to reform the tax structure that he says is driving the middle class away.

He says research shows the regressive tax structure is crippling those who earn less and that the cost of sprawl is too high.

This Wednesday, the mayor will appear before the Memphis Kiwanis Club for the first time to give his first State of the City address, so we should hear much more on this.

He will also announce a jobs initiative on that day.

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