Wharton discusses upcoming priorities, 2011 budget

A C Wharton
A C Wharton

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Mayor A C Wharton spoke to the Memphis City Council Tuesday about his upcoming priorities and the 2011 budget.

Wharton framed his vision of Memphis around a new hook: A City of Choice.

"We're working on our image," he said.

Wharton told council members he wants to give students future options, retain talent, and move the poor into the economic mainstream.  But when it was time for questions, Councilman Bill Boyd asked the mayor about future appointees.

"Are they people who are competent people, who will get the job done on your plan?" he asked.

The question came after Council Chairman Harold Collins sent a letter to Wharton last month asking if the creation of a new $125,000 position, which named Dr. Douglas Scarboro Executive Director of Talent and Human Capital, was appropriate in a struggling economy.

The mayor sent a rebuttal to Collins, saying the job was in his original mayoral platform, and that he backs Scarboro.

"I am always open to any assessments you might have of anybody I appoint," Wharton said. "I don't get offended by that. Just hit me up with it and if it's not living up to our expectations, we'll straighten it out."

Politics aside, the Wharton said it's uncertain if the 2011 budget will include full school funding.

"We don't know whether the Supreme Court will even entertain the appeal," he said. "Even if it does, we will not have a ruling by July 1, 2011."

And though that will increase the budget, Wharton does not want to raise taxes.

"I am not considering a tax increase," he said. "That's the wrong way to start the discussion. You start the discussion by saying can we be more efficient?  Can we be more productive?"

Wharton plans to share more specifics on April 27.  He said there will be a strong push on investing in the people of Memphis, developing job skills, retaining and attracting talent.

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