Memphis City Council, Mayor A C Wharton debate budget

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The budget squeeze pit the Memphis City Council against Mayor A C Wharton Tuesday after the mayor proposed the closure of some golf courses and libraries.

Wharton personally asked the Memphis City Council to pass his budget Tuesday.

"I would really ask that this body approve this," Wharton said.

The closure of the Whitehaven and Overton Golf Courses was the center of contention.  Wharton proposed other avenues for running the courses.

"Naming rights, fee increases, hour adjustments," Wharton said.

Councilman Jim Strickland called Wharton out.

"It appears you signed several, maybe multiple MOUs with labor organizations about a month ago," Strickland said.  "Is that correct?"

The MOUs, or Memorandums of Understanding, are locked in salaries and benefits for 80 percent of the city's employees.

"Salaries have been locked in this budget that we have no say over and we were not even informed of it," Strickland said.

Wharton countered he was offering employees security in the tough economy.

Councilman Myron Lowery also chimed in on the matter.

"I would like to propose an amendment to the notion," Lowery said.

Lowery suggest the mayor try to find cuts besides libraries and golf courses.  He said if that did not work, council members would consider other options.

"Keep in mind it was not a final exclusion," Wharton said.  "They simply said that if you can't find some way to make it up, then come back to us, but try first."

Despite Tuesday's speed bump, all involved said they expect a balanced budget by the June 30 deadline.

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